Future climate and changing energy demands will test the limits of current energy infrastructure in the context of environmental regulations and national climate adaptation and mitigation policies. The focus of this project is to create a National Energy-Water System assessment framework (NEWS) to evaluate climate adaptation and the reliability of power sector infrastructure and operations, as viewed through the lens of strategic water issues.
The electric power sector is the nation’s leading user of fresh water. It is critically dependent upon this resource, particularly to cool its large population of thermoelectric power plants, making the sector particularly sensitive to any shifts in the geography or seasonal disruptions of water supply. New energy technologies, including renewables, hold the promise of off-loading substantial water limitations in the electricity sector, that is, if sufficient knowledge, economic realities and political will are in hand.
We seek to identify constraints as well as opportunities over a multi-decadal timeframe across energy-water systems. A policy charrette process, instituted under the NE-RESM, will be expanded to engage state, regional, and national stakeholders. This project represents the first stage in developing a more complete national energy-water sector (NEWS) assessment framework.