Processing Magazine

More than 700 US power plants have no water reuse systems

February 27, 2014


Over the past few decades there has been a noticeable improvement in the water reuse rates of cooling systems in electric generating plants in the United States but almost half of the facilities still have no policy for reuse, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

New statistics from the EIA reveal that 875 (53 percent) of the 1,655 cooling systems in the United States at work at the moment reuse water through a cooling tower or a cooling pond, but some 719 plants (43 percent) do not reuse water at all. The remaining 61 operating systems are either dry or hybrid, switching between dry and some sort of wet cooling when necessary, the EIA said.

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Power plants that require water as a core component for their cooling systems produce close to three-quarters of the electricity used across the country and represent about 60 percent of the nation's electric generating capacity. These figures alone suggest the enormous amount of water needed by the power industry on a daily basis, highlighting the need for reuse and reduced consumption.

At the turn of the century, construction of power plants using so-called recirculating systems took off and between 2000 and 2004 more than 200 were built. In these plants water is used in a closed loop, so that the amount of water lost in the process is minimal, mostly through evaporation, the federal agency explained.