Arizona Using Solar To Save Millions of Gallons of Water
As a very water-conscious nation, Australia prides itself in its water conservation efforts. Another way the nation might support these conservation efforts is with solar. This AZCentral article describes how Arizona solar is saving millions of gallons of water. Here’s an excerpt:
Not enough rain and snow. Dwindling reservoirs. Record heat.
Our future water supply is in jeopardy. As Arizona struggles to find solutions, there is an obvious one right above our heads. The sun. Rooftop solar power currently saves the state 768 million gallons of water a year. The potential to save more water is amazing.
Most people are not aware that it can take lots of water to generate electricity. Thermal generation, where nuclear energy, natural gas or coal are used to heat water and drive turbines, is second only to irrigation in terms of water withdrawals.
That’s hardly the case with rooftop solar panels which harvest electricity directly from the sun without the use of turbines.
Thermal power plants on average use 685 gallons of water to create one megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity. Rooftop solar uses almost no water, save a minimal amount to keep panels free of dust and dirt.
There’s plenty of room for growth. Rooftop solar currently accounts for less than 1 percent of Arizona’s energy supply. Increase that number to 20 percent, and Arizona could save 15 billion gallons of water a year. That’s the equivalent of 1.6 million swimming pools (at 9,000 gallons each). It’s enough water to supply more than 90,000 homes or the entire population of the City of Chandler for one year.
As a former director for the Arizona Department of Water Resources, I can tell you that there is no one magic solution to avoid an Arizona water crisis. However, we can start with water saving measures that reduce our current water use to help meet the challenge.
As an Olympic swimmer striving to overcome a severe spinal cord injury, I can tell you that our great state can overcome any challenge.
That’s why we teamed up to deliver this message.
You don’t have to be an expert on water usage or an Olympic swimmer to appreciate the need to conserve water, especially in the desert. It is ironic that our desert provides both the problem, a constant shortage of water, and a solution, an unyielding sun.