FREEING ENERGY

Energy Fact – Solar and wind use 250 times less water than coal and nuclear plants

Water used in power plants

(gallons per year)
Steps in power plant life cyclesConsumed% of totalWithdrawn% of total
Fuel production and transportation 2,830,000,000,000 65% 3,850,000,000,000 7%
Power plant cooling 1,410,000,000,000 32% 54,200,000,000,000 93%
Waste handling 98,400,000,000 2% 20,400,000,000 0%

Comparative water use in power plants

(gallons of water per gigawatt hour generated)
Water useWithdrawn for fuel extractionWithdrawn for power plantWithdrawn for wasteWithdrawn TotalConsumed for fuel extractionConsumed for power plantConsumed for wasteConsumed Total
Solar – PV1,778001,7781,778001,778
Wind30,0500030,0503,005003,005
Natural Gas – Conventional18,222743,7320761,95517,10239,465056,568
Natural Gas – Fracking45,743743,7320789,47544,63039,465084,095
Solar – CSP20,0341,546,20201,566,23520,034918,1520938,185
Geothermal2,630,152322,89202,953,0442,630,152319,60502,949,758
Biomass – Solid54,1153,153,7931,7913,209,69954,11576,5131,791132,420
Coal (all types)149,38716,152,5708,98016,310,93776,154299,98344,055420,192
Nuclear4,02824,639,2293,14824,646,4053,734569,6203,148576,502
Hydropower2,517,78621,455,569,927021,458,087,7132,517,786002,517,786

Additional information

You can check out our sources and analysis here:

Here are some of the great articles and papers we came across while researching water use in the power industry:


Fact Code: g107