Energy Security Current Issue What the 9/11 Commission missed One of the main conclusions of the 9/11 Commission is that in order for the U.S. to prevail in the war on terror it must develop a multidisciplinary, comprehensive, and balanced strategy, which integrates diplomacy, intelligence, covert action, law-enforcement, economic policy, foreign aid, homeland defense, and military strength. IAGS' Gal Luft argues that a key component is missing.
Saudi Arabia in Crisis IAGS' Anne Korin presented a strategy for reducing U.S. dependence on Saudi oil as part of a conference hosted by the Hudson Institute on July 9, 2004. Watch the event (Anne's presentation starts at 02:38:35.)
Energy Security in East Asia The outlook for energy security in the Asia-Pacific looks particularly troubling, with rising levels of oil consumption and an even stronger rise in demand. IAGS Research Associate Richard Giragosian analyzes the energy security risks faced by the region and the agreements and strategies adopted by Japan, South Korea, Thailand, and the Philippines in response.
On the technology front How utilities can save America from its oil addiction As the global oil market approaches its peak, and at a time when increases in global demand require that an additional Saudi Arabia worth of oil be brought into the market every five years, utility companies which have traditionally viewed themselves as providers of "power" for lighting homes or powering computers, can now break the dominance of Big Oil in the transportation energy sector and introduce much needed competition in the transportation fuel market. Gal Luft explains how.
Comparing Hydrogen and Electricity for Transmission, Storage and Transportation
A new study titled "Carrying the Energy Future: Comparing Hydrogen and Electricity for Transmission, Storage and Transportation" by the Seattle based Institute for Lifecycle Environmental Assessment (ILEA,) evaluated the energy penalties incurred in using hydrogen to transmit energy as compared to those incurred using electricity.
The report's main premise is that since hydrogen is not an energy source but an energy carrier its economic and environmental qualities should be compared to those of electricity, the only other commonplace energy carrier. It therefore compares the actual energy available when hydrogen and electricity carriers are employed and finds that electricity delivers substantially greater end use energy, concluding that "electricity offers more energy efficient options that might preclude mass-scale emergence of hydrogen technologies."
Study: Coal based methanol is cheapest fuel for fuel cells
A recently completed study by University of Florida researchers for the Georgetown University fuel cell program assessed the the future overall costs of various fuel options for fuel cell vehicles. The primary fuel options analyzed by the study were hydrogen from natural gas, hydrogen from coal, and methanol from coal. The study concluded that methanol from coal was the cheapest option, by a factor of almost 50%.
Major improvement in fuel economy and range of Honda's fuel cell vehicles
The 2005 model Honda fuel cell vehicle achieves a nearly 20 percent improvement in its EPA fuel economy rating and a 33 percent gain in peak power (107 hp vs. 80 hp) compared to the 2004 model, and feature a number of important technological achievements on the road to commercialization of fuel cell vehicles.
Biodiesel fueled ships to cruise in Canada
A Canadian project will test the use of pure biodiesel (B100) as a fuel supply on a fleet of 12 boats of various types and sizes, 11 boats on pure biodiesel (B100) and one on a 5-percent blend (B5).
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The Connection: Water and Energy Security
The energy security of the United States is closely linked to the state of its water resources. No longer can water resources be taken for granted if the U.S. is to achieve energy security in the years and decades ahead. At the same time, U.S. water security cannot be guaranteed without careful attention to related energy issues. The two issues are inextricably linked, as this article will discuss.
The problem is that 96%, or 317 million cubic miles, is found in the oceans and is saline (35,000 ppm of dissolved salts). Another 7 million cubic miles is tied up in icecaps and glaciers, and 3.1 million in the earth’s atmosphere. Ground water, fresh water lakes, and rivers account for just over 2 million cubic miles of fresh water. The net result is that 99.7% of all the water on earth is not available for human and animal consumption. Of the remaining 0.3%, much is inaccessible due to unreachable locations and depths, and the vast majority of water for human and animal consumption, much less than 1% of the total supply, is stored in ground water.
An important feature of the earth’s supply of fresh water is its non-uniform distribution around the globe. Water, for which there are no substitutes, has always been mankind’s most precious resource. The struggle to control water resources has shaped human political and economic history, and water has been a source of tension wherever water resources are shared by neighboring peoples. Globally, there are 215 international rivers and 300 ground water basins and aquifers shared by two or more countries.
Water-related tensions around the world can have significant implications for U.S. national security. In the Middle East, for example, water is a source of conflict not only between Israel and its Arab neighbors, but also between Egypt and Sudan, and Turkey, Syria, and Iraq. Many have forgotten that the progression towards the 1967 War, whose impact lingers to this day, was triggered by the water dispute between Israel and Syria over control over the Jordan River. Water conflicts add to the instablity of a region on which the U.S. depends heavily for oil. Continuation or inflammation of these conflicts could subject U.S. energy supplies to blackmail again, as occurred in the 1970s.
Population growth and economic development are driving a steadily increasing demand for new water supplies, and global demand for water has more than tripled over the past half century. Globally, the largest user of fresh water is agriculture, accounting for roughly three quarters of total use. In Africa this fraction approaches 90%. In the U.S. agriculture accounts for 39% of fresh water use, the same fraction used for cooling thermal power plants.
Future prospects are not encouraging. Global water withdrawal in 2000 is estimated to be 1,000 cubic miles (4,000 km3), about 30% of the world’s total accessible fresh water supply. By 2025 that fraction may reach 70%. Over pumping of ground water by the world’s farmers already exceeds natural replenishment by more than 160 km3, 4% of total withdrawals.
How serious is the situation today? The World Health Organization estimates that, globally, 1.1 billion people lack access to clean water supplies, and that 2.4 billion lack access to basic sanitation. 1,000 m3 is the per capita annual amount of water deemed necessary to satisfy basic human needs. In 1995 166 million people in 18 countries lived below that level. By 2050 potable water availability is projected to fall below that level for 1.7 billion people in 39 countries. Water shortages now plague almost every country in North Africa and the Middle East.
There are significant health impacts of water shortages. Water-borne diseases account for roughly 80% of infections in the developing world. Nearly 4 billion cases of diarrhea occur each year. 200 million people in 74 countries are infected with the parasitic disease schistosomiasis. Intestinal worms infect about 10% of the developing world population. It is estimated that 6 million people are blind from trachoma, and that the population at risk is 500 million.
How much energy is needed to provide water services? As stated earlier, energy is required to lift water from depth in aquifers, pump water through canals and pipes, control water flow and treat waste water, and desalinate brackish or sea water. Globally, commercial energy consumed for delivering water is more than 26 Quads, 7% of total world consumption. Some specific examples follow:
1. Lifting ground water power needed = (water flow rate)x(water density)x(head) For example, lifting water from a depth of 100 feet at a flow rate of 20 gallons per minute, and assuming an overall pump efficiency of 50%, requires one horsepower.
2. Pumping water through pipes power needed = (water flow rate)x (water density)x(H+HL) where H is the lift of water from pump to outflow and HL is the effective head loss from water flow in the pipe. For example, moving water uphill 100 feet at 3 feet per second through a pipeline that is one mile long and 2 inches in diameter, requires 4.8 horsepower.
3. Energy needed to treat water Average energy use for water treatment drawn from southern California studies is 652 kWh per acre-foot (AF), where one AF = 325,853 gallons.
4. Energy needed for desalination There is broad agreement that extensive use of desalination will be required to meet the needs of a growing world population. Energy costs are the principal barrier to its greater use. Worldwide, more than 15,000 units are producing over 32 million cubic meters of fresh water per day. 52% of this capacity is in the Middle East, largely in Saudi Arabia where 30 desalination plants meet 70% of the Kingdom’s present drinking water needs and several new plants are under construction. North America has 16%, Asia 12%, Europe 13%, Africa 4%, Central America 3%, and Australia 0.3%. The two most widely used desalination technologies are reverse osmosis (RO; 44%) and multi-stage flash distillation (MSF; 40%). Energy requirements, exclusive of energy required for pre-treatment, brine disposal and water transport, are: RO: 5,800-12,000 kWh/AF (4.7-5.7 kWh/m3) and MSF: 28,500-33,000 kWh/AF (23-27 kWh/m3).
U.S. water withdrawals in 2000 are shown in Fig. 2. Power plant cooling is the largest user, when total withdrawals (fresh plus saline) are counted. A 500 MWe closed-loop power plant requires 7,000 gallons per minute (10.1 million gallons per day). Of the 195 million gallons per day used in 2000 for cooling thermal power plants, 70% was fresh water, and 30% saline (only about 3% of this water is actually consumed through evaporation). Nationally, power plant cooling and agricultural irrigation each accounted for 39% of fresh water use.
Competition for fresh water is already limiting energy production. For example, Georgia Power lost a bid to draw water from the Chattahooche River, the Environmental Protection Agency ordered a Massachusetts power plant to reduce its water withdrawals, Idaho has denied water rights requests for several power plants, Duke Power warned Charlotte, NC to reduce its water use, and a Pennsylvania nuclear power plant is planning to use wastewater from coal mines. Other utilities are warning of a power crunch if water availability is reduced.
In response, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), the research and development arm of the private electric utility sector, has initiated a major new research program that will address the connection between fresh water availability and economic sustainability. As a first step, EPRI, which has projected that the world will need 7,000 GW of additional electrical generation capacity by 2050 (today’s total is just over 3,000 GW), undertook a screening study aimed at characterizing the probable magnitude of the quantity of water demanded and supplied, as well as the quality of such water, in the U.S. for the next half century (2000-2050). This screening study, published in 2002, concluded that “…the water budget of the United States in the next 50 years is more uncertain than the currently available predictions suggest,” that “…the cost of insufficient water availability over the next 50 years can be huge,” and that “…water availability can severely constrain electricity growth.”
It is important to emphasize again that we can no longer take water resources for granted if the U.S. is to achieve energy security in the years ahead. This is true of other countries as well, and reflects the strong linkage between water and energy, as well as a growing water security crisis world-wide. Water and energy are also the critical elements of sustainable development, a major goal of U.S. foreign policy. Without access to both, economic growth and job creation cannot take place and poverty cannot be averted.
If our nation is to achieve water and energy security, the linkage between the two must be recognized and acted upon. This will require an enhanced partnership between the federal government, which has primary responsibility for energy security, and the states, where water issues have historically been addressed. The federal government and the states both have much to contribute to such a partnership, which is urgently needed.
Dr. Allan R. Hoffman, Senior Analyst, U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), served as associate and acting deputy assistant secretary for Utility Technologies in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy of the DOE and is an IAGS Advisor.