Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

Why Less Coal in Texas Could Mean More Water For a Thirsty State

As Texas moves away from coal and towards natural gas for its power plants, it stands to save billions of gallons of water in the process, according to a new study by the University of Texas at Austin’s Webber Energy Group. And in planning for the future, switching to gas will save even more. You can see a video version of the report above.

“It’s not realistic to switch our power plants today to something else, but as a state we are considering what our power mix will be over the next few decades, because many of the things we built three or four decades ago are up for retirement or a retrofit to be maintained for a longer lifetime,” Michael Webber, a professor of Mechanical Engineering that leads the group, tells KUT. “And as we contemplate those decisions, it’s worth keeping the water impact in mind.”  Natural gas uses less coal even if you account of the water needed to drill via hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” for the gas.

The authors of the study posit that for the year 2007, if Texas’ coal power plants had been natural gas ones instead, it would have saved enough water for a million Texan households for a year.

You can read more over at KUT.


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