Water demand for electricity in deep decarbonisation scenarios: a multi-model assessment

Water demand for electricity in deep decarbonisation scenarios: a multi-model assessment This study assesses the effects of deep electricity decarbonisation and shifts in the choice of power plant cooling technologies on global electricity water demand, using a suite of five integrated assessment models. We find that electricity sector decarbonisation results in co-benefits for water resources primarily due to the phase-out of water-intensive coal-based thermoelectric power generation, although these co-benefits vary substantially across decarbonisation scenarios. Wind and solar photovoltaic power represent a win-win option for both climate and water resources, but further expansion of nuclear or fossil- and biomass-fuelled power plants with carbon capture and storage may result in increased pressures on the water environment. Further to these results, the paper provides insights on the most crucial factors of uncertainty with regards to future estimates of water demand. These estimates varied substantially across models in scenarios where the effects of decarbonisation on the electricity mix were less clear-cut. Future thermal and water efficiency improvements of power generation technologies and demand-side energy efficiency improvements were also identified to be important factors of uncertainty. We conclude that in order to ensure positive effects of decarbonisation on water resources, climate policy should be combined with technology-specific energy and/or water policies. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Climatic Change Springer Journals

Water demand for electricity in deep decarbonisation scenarios: a multi-model assessment

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Publisher
Springer Netherlands
Copyright
Copyright © 2017 by Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature
Subject
Earth Sciences; Atmospheric Sciences; Climate Change/Climate Change Impacts
ISSN
0165-0009
eISSN
1573-1480
D.O.I.
10.1007/s10584-017-2117-7
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This study assesses the effects of deep electricity decarbonisation and shifts in the choice of power plant cooling technologies on global electricity water demand, using a suite of five integrated assessment models. We find that electricity sector decarbonisation results in co-benefits for water resources primarily due to the phase-out of water-intensive coal-based thermoelectric power generation, although these co-benefits vary substantially across decarbonisation scenarios. Wind and solar photovoltaic power represent a win-win option for both climate and water resources, but further expansion of nuclear or fossil- and biomass-fuelled power plants with carbon capture and storage may result in increased pressures on the water environment. Further to these results, the paper provides insights on the most crucial factors of uncertainty with regards to future estimates of water demand. These estimates varied substantially across models in scenarios where the effects of decarbonisation on the electricity mix were less clear-cut. Future thermal and water efficiency improvements of power generation technologies and demand-side energy efficiency improvements were also identified to be important factors of uncertainty. We conclude that in order to ensure positive effects of decarbonisation on water resources, climate policy should be combined with technology-specific energy and/or water policies.

Journal

Climatic ChangeSpringer Journals

Published: Nov 30, 2017

References

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