The feasibility, cost, and air quality impacts of using electrical grids to shift water use from drought-stricken regions to areas with more water availability were examined. Power plant cooling represents a large portion of freshwater withdrawals in the United States, and shifting where electricity generation occurs can allow the grid to act as a virtual water pipeline, increasing water availability in regions with drought by reducing water consumption and withdrawals for power generation. During a 2006 drought, shifting electricity generation out of the most impacted areas of South Texas (∼10% of base case generation) to other parts of the grid would have been feasible using transmission and power generation available at the time, and some areas would experience changes in air quality. Although expensive, drought-based electricity dispatch is a potential parallel strategy that can be faster to implement than other infrastructure changes, such as air cooling or water pipelines.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
- Environmental Science(all)
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health