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Data Centers, Digital and Water Use

In water to make energy, water use

When people use the internet, they rely on a data center to store, manage and disseminate information. To keep these centers running efficiently, a tremendous amount of energy and water are required, providing yet another example of the important nexus between water and energy resources. Digital cryptocurrencies cause similar concerns. Data centers, which house computer data systems, are energy hogs …

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Hydraulic Fracturing and its Impact on Water Resources

In water to make energy, water use

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a multistep extraction process in which fossil fuel-bearing rock formations are drilled and fractured using huge amounts of water. Oil and gas reserves that were at one time considered inaccessible are now available to be exploited. While the fracking process has expanded oil and gas development, it has also expanded risks to water resources. The …

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Sizing Up Electricity’s Water Footprint

In water to make energy, water use

Water is deeply intertwined with electricity production. In the past, researchers have estimated the large volumes of cooling water used by different kinds of power plants, but those estimates don’t usually take into account the many other thirsty steps required to generate electricity, from extracting fuels, to manufacturing all the parts of a power plant.  A 2013 paper by Meldrum et al., takes …

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The Water Footprint of Energy

In water to make energy, water use

Energy comes in two forms – electricity and transportation fuels. It takes a lot of virtual water to make electricity, especially for thermoelectric power production. It also takes water to refine transportation fuels. So saving energy also save water and vice versa. In the US, almost 90 percent of electricity is generated by thermoelectric power plants. These facilities use fossil fuels – …