Austin, Texas – A new study by researchers at the University of Texas has concluded that converting light-duty transportation from full gasoline power to electric power is likely to increase demand for water resources. Full use of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) or battery electric vehicles (EV) will require increased water cooling of thermoelectric power plants to accommodate the increased electricity generation, representing a significant potential impact on regional water resources.
The authors of the study, Carey King and Michael Webber, note that the negative effects do not make the shift to grid-based transportation undesirable, but that such impacts should be quantified ahead of time to avoid unnecessary conflicts.
The study calculates that three times more water is consumed with electric miles versus gasoline miles, and more than 17 times more water is withdrawn, primarily due to increased cooling needs.
The authors suggest promoting renewable energy sources that use little or no water; regional water plans that consider increased demands for electricity for PHEVs; generating electricity by methods that do not withdraw such large amounts of water; and using reclaimed, saline or other water sources suitable for cooling but which cannot be treated economically for drinking.