Infographics on the water-energy nexus

We all need water and energy but with climate change, water scarcity is increasing. And sometimes, precious water is necessary to generate electricity. So for today’s post, I gathered a few infographics on that topic. 

There again, coal, natural gas and nuclear get beaten up by wind and solar which use very little to no water.

We have recently seen that renewable energies are much more efficient than fossil fuels thanks to an infographic showing what it takes to power a 100W light bulb ( or rather, five 20W efficient ones ).

In early February I shared another information source showing the greenhouse gases emissions of various energy sources. There again, the verdict was clear as water : fossil fuels emits ten to a hundred times more than clean energy sources. 

Here comes a third massive argument against coal, oil and natural gas : they are huge water guzzlers, and in a dryer world, they just have to be phased out. Here come three information sources.

First and foremost the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) has a nifty infographic that sums up the issue quite well :

energy water EDF

Here are some of their explanations :

 Let’s look at a breakdown of how energy resources stack up in terms of water consumption and discuss their carbon footprints: (…)

  • Coal generally requires more water than nuclear, and generates more greenhouse gases emissions and other pollutants than any other energy source (about 2.15 lb CO2 per kWh electricity), making coal something like the chili cheese fries of energy.
  • Unlike coal and natural gas, nuclear energy releases no carbon emissions, but still requires an abundant water supply – think about that high-sodium processed turkey.
  • Natural gas emits about half the carbon emissions of coal (about 1.22 lb CO2 per kWh electricity) and requires less water than coal, but still needs an enormous amount of water for drilling activities and conversion to electricity.

Another source of information corroborates the EDF data regarding the difference between renewables and fossil fuels and nuclear. General Electric has a blog on The Economist with another graph. Here it is :

energy water GE


Last but not least, a solar company – Pure Energies – created its own infographic to share some data. And there is no ambivalence on that : fossil fuels get beaten up by solar.

energy water Pure Energies


I think the findings couldn’t be more clear : if you are concerned about water scarcity, you should go solar. Once they are produced, solar panels do not need any water to operate for decades, nor do wind turbines (except for some maintenance here and there… )


Image credits : flickr.

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