U.S. Environmental Protection Agency


Date of this Version



Current Opinion in Chemical Engineering 2014, 5:7–14


This article is a U.S. government work, and is not subject to copyright in the United States.


Thermoelectric power production comprised 41% of total freshwater withdrawals in the U.S., surpassing even agriculture. This review highlights scenarios of the electric sector’s future demands for water, including scenarios that limit both CO2 and water availability. A number of studies show withdrawals decreasing with retirement of existing electricity generating units. Consumption, the evaporative losses, also decreases in many scenarios. However, climate mitigation scenarios relying heavily on nuclear and carbon capture technologies may induce increases in water consumption. These increases in consumption represent a potential tradeoff between climate mitigation and adaptation of the electric sector to climate-related changes in water resources. It also points to the need for both analyses and technological solutions from the chemical engineering community.