Blogs, Solar, Wind Power

Which Electricity Technologies Use The Least Water?


One of the most critical environmental crises we are facing today concerns one of our most precious resources: water. Water scarcity isn’t only an issue threatening future generations; it’s a problem for millions of people around the world. Electricity production is actually a heavy user of water, but there are vast differences in the water use of different electricity technologies.

So, which electricity technologies use the least water? I’ll give you a hint: the ones that are also best for our climate and our air.

Per kilowatt-hour of electricity produced, solar PV panels use 0.110 liters of water and wind turbines use 0.004 liters of water. That doesn’t mean much to most of us without context, so here’s some context: per kilowatt-hour of electricity produced, nuclear reactors use 2.3 liters of water (about 21 times more than solar PV panels and about 575 times more than wind turbines), coal power plants use 1.9 liters of water (about 17 times more than solar PV panels and about 475 times more than wind turbines), oil power plants use 1.6 liters of water (about 15 times more than solar PV panels and about 400 times more than wind turbines) and combined cycle power plants use 0.95 liters of water (about 8.63 times more than solar PV panels and 237.5 times more than wind turbines).

water electricity use

To provide clean water to people who need it (that is, everyone), we need to make a number of changes. One of those changes concerns how we produce electricity.

From the water benefits to the air quality benefits to the climate benefits to the job-creation benefits, there are a lot of reasons we need to move to a solar- and wind-dominated grid.

Image Credit: Kevin Dooley | CC BY 2.0

Originally published on Sustainnovate.