Selected Publications and Articles

Texas Energy-Water Simulator

Author: Paul Faeth

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed a new rule under the Clean Air Act—the Clean Power Plan (CPP)—to control carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from existing stationary electric power plants. In order to better understand the potential impacts of the rule for water consumption and withdrawals in Texas, a state that is experiencing on-going drought, we apply a power generation policy model to evaluate water use along with other economic and environmental indicators. We explore two scenarios: a baseline scenario and the implementation of the CPP. We find that the state will save water under the CPP and be able to meet the final and interim targets with modest incremental effort.

Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences
Authors: Paul Faeth and Lars Hanson

In an area with as many connections as the energy, water, land, and climate nexus, it can be a challenge to identify the highest priority research opportunities. In collaboration with the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), we undertook a process to isolate and rank a wide variety of potential research topics. Using several forms of Delphic processes, we engaged experts working on related topics to work with us to develop a short list of 15 priority research topics. We briefly describe the process we used, the challenges with developing topics that encompass all of the elements of the energy-water-land-climate (EWLC) nexus, and present the final list, which is intended to be a discussion starter rather than a definitive list. We found that it is relatively easy to identify research topics that touch one or two elements of the nexus, but difficult to identify ones that truly cover the nexus. Priorities identified by our participants in the process include improving policy and planning, understanding human behavior, enhancing data and modeling, managing risk, and understanding regional differences.

Authors: Paul Faeth, Benjamin K. Sovacool, Zoë Thorkildsen, Ajith Rao, David Purcell, Jay Eidsness, Katie Johnson, Brian Thompson, Sara Imperiale, and Alex Gilbert

This report describes the application of a new mixed-integer linear programming model of the power sector that accounts for water used for thermal cooling. The model is used to explore a series of scenarios for each of four case studies—the North Grid of China, India, France, and the state of Texas in the United States. For each case study we developed a baseline projection, then modeled a number of scenarios, including limits on water availability, reduced power demand from end-use. energy efficiency, expansion of renewable energy, and carbon caps. We provide model output, including water withdrawals and consumption; power generation fuel mix; carbon dioxide emissions; and total system, fixed, and variable costs. Documentation of the model is provided in an appendix. We developed a set of recommended strategies from this analysis, which are presented in detail in a companion report, Capturing Synergies Between Water Conservation and Carbon Dioxide Emissions in the Power Sector.

Authors: Paul Faeth and Benjamin K. Sovacool

In order to gain a more thorough understanding of potential conflicts and synergies between power generation and water use, we developed a mixed-integer linear programming model of the power sector that captures the key relationships with water. We used the model to develop a series of scenarios for each of four case studies—the North Grid of China, India, France, and the state of Texas in the United States. We found that cost-effective options exist that can cut water use, reduce risks to the power sector, and also reduce emissions of conventional pollutants and greenhouse gases from electricity generation. This report focuses on strategies we recommend to capture those synergies.