Water is a fixed resource with competing demands and increase uncertainty. There is an inextricable link between water and energy, as thermoelectric power generation accounts for 40% of freshwater withdrawals in the United States. In addition, as the country begins to shift its focus towards decarbonizing the energy industry, water management is becoming increasingly important as many of decarbonization methods are even more water intensive.
The NETL Water Management program addresses competing water needs and challenges, through technology development as well as analytical studies to inform and prioritize R&D initiatives. The program encompasses the need to minimize any potential impacts of power plant operations on water quality and availability by analyzing and exploring plant efficiency opportunities that can reduce the amount of water required for fossil energy operations. In addition, the program is looking toward the future by studying water efficiency in energy decarbonization methods such as fuel switching with hydrogen and other biofuels and carbon capture technology.
The program has a robust portfolio of projects addressing critical technical barriers to increased plant efficiency and decreased environmental impact. These projects are supported by a variety of analytical tools, including the Integrated Environmental Control Model (IECM) and the Available Water Remaining for the United States (AWARE-US), that provide systematic estimates of performance, emissions, costs, and uncertainties for a wide variety of fossil fuel-fired power generation systems.