Water Footprint in Electricity Generation with an Emphasis on Renewable Energies

Document Type : Research Article


1 Faculty of New Sciences & Technologies, University of Tehran, Iran

2 Associated Professor, Ecohydrology, Faculty of New of Science and Technologies, University of Tehran, Iran


With the increase in population, the use of natural resources increased and despite the limitations of these resources, environmental problems were created. Climate change, on the other hand, doubles concerns about water and energy supply. There are only two solutions to the water crisis: creating and discovering new resources, keeping existing resources available, and using them in a planned way. The aim of this study is the investigation of the water footprint of the electricity industry. At first, a number of power plants in the country were studied as samples. Then, the amount of virtual water consumption per kilowatt hour of electricity generated from thermal power plants and renewable energy was investigated and calculated. The results showed that the amount of virtual water used in different power plants depends on the type of power plant and the type of cooling system. Water consumption in all types of power plants is as follows: heat >combined cycle >gas >photovoltaic> wind. The average water consumption in the stem power plant with wet tower cooling system is 2.2 L/kWh, in the steam and CCGT power plant with once-though cooling system is 1.5 L/kWh, in the steam and CCGT with dry cooling system is 0.2 L/kWh, in the gas turbine is 0.025 L/kWh and in the PV is 0.07 L/kWh. The price of water is different for drinking water, irrigation and industry. So the price of water consumption of electricity is low in wind turbine, gas turbine and photovoltaic, respectively. Therefore, in order to develop and grow the country's power industry, choosing the type of power plant and especially the type of cooling system plays an important role in saving water consumption.


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Volume 7, Issue 4
January 2021
Pages 1007-1019
  • Receive Date: 05 August 2020
  • Revise Date: 02 November 2020
  • Accept Date: 02 November 2020
  • First Publish Date: 18 December 2020