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Georgia Comprehensive Statewide Water Management Plan: Forecasting Statewide Energy Sector Water Demands Through 2050

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Georgia has embarked on an ambitious, comprehensive water resources planning effort aimed at meeting the state's future water resource needs through 2050. In 2005, the thermoelectric energy sector was responsible for 63 percent of surface water withdrawals, and 9 percent of surface water consumption in the state. Therefore, energy sector water demand is integral in planning for the future of Georgia's water resources.

Under the direction of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Environmental Protection Division (EPD), and in collaboration with an energy sector ad hoc group composed of representatives from the power industry and the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA) state agency, CDM worked to develop a statewide water demand forecast for energy production. This paper and presentation will describe the methodological approach used to develop a state-level energy sector water demand forecast through 2050, as well as the forecast results, data gaps, challenges and unknowns in developing such a forecast.

Future statewide power needs were modeled based on the historical relationship of state population and electric utilities' power generation in Georgia from 1990 to 2008. Water withdrawals and water consumption vary by type of power-generating unit and cooling system. The water needed to meet the projected statewide energy demands was forecasted using an analysis of the actual rates of water withdrawals and consumption per unit of power generated for power plants in Georgia, utilizing four common power-generation processes. The energy sector ad hoc group also provided insight regarding the likely trends in development of future thermoelectric generating capacity in the state through the next decade and beyond.

The results of the forecast are presented under two future power needs scenarios, along with a discussion of how these results may be incorporated into regional water plans. Future energy sector water withdrawals are forecasted to increase modestly. Water consumption for power production is forecasted to steadily increase as Georgia's energy needs continue to grow and a greater portion of the state's energy needs are met by facilities with cooling tower technologies.
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Keywords: Water demand forecasting; energy water use; state water planning

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2011-01-01

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