Sobering Fact: Water Through a Power Plant Can Fill the Empire State Building Every Day

Salem MA Power Plant

As Americans we use a lot of water—per capita, more than any other country on the planet. A huge portion (49% as of 2005) of what we use goes to thermoelectric cooling, or removing heat from our fossil fuel burning power plants. That’s around 200 billion gallons a day, but we have a lot of power plants out there. How much does one of these plants actually use? The biggest culprits are the oldest plants that are the least efficient, built before the days of harnessing cogeneration. Taking the coal-fired power plant in Salem, Massachusetts (set to be decommissioned next year), the word is that the plant currently uses up to 359 million gallons a day when it is running at full capacity. How much is that?

For reference, let’s take the Empire State Building. With 102 floors, topping out at 1,454 feet, the tower encompasses an impressive 37 million cubic feet of volume. In comparison, 359 million gallons divided by 7.48 gallons per cubic foot equals 47.99 million cubic feet. That means that water used to cool the Salem plant at full capacity could fill the Empire State Building 1.3 times a day! This is one of the more seldom-referenced reasons why our old fossil fuel plants need to be retired in deference to cleaner energy production.Power Plant Water Usage

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2 Responses to “Sobering Fact: Water Through a Power Plant Can Fill the Empire State Building Every Day”

  1. carol binkowski Reply May 3, 2013 at 10:34 am

    Our fossil fuel addiction and water squandering are big issues for our planet and civilization.. thanks for bringing new info to the public.. your readers may also be interested in 350.org if they don’t know about it already.. .. it’s short movie trailer is a good intro to some fossil fuel issues . http://act.350.org/signup/math-movie/ and Barbara Kingsolver’s novel “Flight Behavior”, which I am reading now, may also interest them.. it is an interesting story of a young woman and her family that uses Monarch Butterfly events to discuss environmental issues and global warming…

  2. This company has just come up with a nano gas that can cut carbon emissions from power plants like these. It’s Hydroinfra Technology. It is based in Stockholm, Sweden.

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