Water scarcity is already a serious problem for
Water outflows from nuclear power plants can damage the local environment…
Nuclear reactors in numerous European countries have been periodically taken off-line or operated at reduced output in recent years because of water shortages driven by climate change, drought and heat waves. Nuclear utilities have also sought and secured exemptions from operating conditions in order to discharge overheated water.
The water consumption of renewable energy sources and energy efficiency and conservation measures is negligible compared to nuclear or coal. Operating a 2,400 Watt fan heater for one hour consumes 0.01 litres of water if wind is the energy source, 0.26 litres if solar is the energy source, 4.5 litres if coal is the energy source, or 5.5 litres if nuclear power is the energy source.
Tim Flannery, the 2007 Australian of the Year, notes that hastening the uptake of renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, and geothermal 'hot rocks' will help ease the water crisis as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions - a win-win outcome.
Globally, there is another compelling reason to ensure that decisions on water allocation - including its use in energy production - are made wisely and equitably. Limited access to water is already contributing to armed conflicts ('water wars') in a number of places around the globe. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recently noted that shortages of food and water in sub-Saharan Africa were a precursor to the current tragic violence in