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As communities grow, greater demands are placed on water supplies, wastewater services, and the electricity needed to power the growing water services infrastructure. Water is also a critical resource for thermoelectric power plants. Future population growth in the United States is therefore expected to heighten competition for water resources. Especially in arid U.S. regions, communities may soon face hard choices with respect to water and electric power.

Many parts of the United States with increasing water stresses also have significant wind energy resources. Wind power is the fastest-growing electric generation source in the United States and is decreasing in cost to be competitive with thermoelectric generation. Wind energy can potentially offer communities in water-stressed areas the option of economically meeting increasing energy needs without increasing demands on valuable water resources. Wind energy can also provide targeted energy production to serve critical local water-system needs. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Wind Energy Technologies Program has been exploring the potential for wind power to meet growing challenges for water supply and treatment. The DOE is currently characterizing the U.S. regions that are most likely to benefit from wind-water applications and is also exploring the associated technical and policy issues associated with bringing wind energy to bear on water resource challenges.

Municipal water service providers face several challenges, including providing clean, reliable water supplies at low cost, wastewater treatment, and managing environmental risks. Water supply salinity, contaminant concentrations, surface water quality and groundwater withdrawal rates all play a role in these challenges. Opportunities for matching wind potential and water needs are being modeled through Geographical Information Systems (GIS) modeling. Results of the modeling will quantitatively describe the range of potential wind energy applications where various water needs exist and point out utility areas that may be good candidates for selected wind-water applications. Urban, agricultural, and industrial water services that may be served by wind generation are included. In subsequent studies, the results of the first phase—identifying promising opportunities and initial case studies—will be combined with the identification of technical and other issues, to develop detailed situation analyses to more fully characterize the application of wind generation for pumping and transporting water in the municipal sector.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2006-01-01

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