In contrast to many other modern means of generating electricity, solar panels don’t use water in the same capacity. Energy choices in general have big implications for water usage. Water is used to produce energy in power plants, or even to extract, process, and transport fossil fuels like coal and natural gas. According to the International Energy Agency, energy supply has accounted for almost 15% of global water withdrawals annually. Solar panels help the world save on water, but how does it work?
No Water to Generate Power
Many conventional power plants must use tons of water in order to cool themselves off. For example, in 2010, U.S. power plants were responsible for 45 percent of total water withdrawals. That’s quite a lot of water just to generate some power. On the other hand, solar panels require no water for cooling and are thus much more ecofriendly.
Capturing Solar Power Doesn’t Require Water
When we extract and process fossil fuels, we’re using a large amount of water. Fossil fuel companies who are drilling for natural gas and oil often have to inject high-pressure liquid into wells to “fracture” underground rocks, which then allows the fuel to be extracted. The liquid is mostly water which is why it’s known as “hydraulic fracturing,” or fracking. After that, even more water is necessary for refining and transportation. Fracking is bad for the world for a lot of reasons, but it certainly isn’t great for how we use water either.
Floating Solar Panels Can Reduce Evaporation
There are more and more floating solar farms than ever, also called “floatovoltaics.” These solar panel-covered rafts are put in reservoirs and large bodies of water in an attempt to increase clean power. They also reduce evaporation though, which for some bodies of water, can be a big deal.
Helping Water Facilities
Many water facilities across the world are starting to install solar panels. This allows for more efficient uses of energy, which translates into saving water. Solar panels aren’t just critical in terms of electricity we use–it helps us save water as well!
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