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Economics of Possible Energy Sector Roles in a Food Energy Water Stressed Region
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South Central Texas is a region where water is scarce, the region exhibits growing water, energy and food demands associated with an expanding population. Climate change also stresses water supplies. This dissertation examines electricity sector possibilities for alleviating water scarcity in a Food-Energy-Water (FEW) Nexus context. In particular, possibilities for retrofitting existing cooling systems of power plants to reduce water withdrawal and consumption are considered. To evaluate water related actions by regional power plants, an examination is done of the water savings and associated cost arising from potential changes in cooling systems. The estimated costs per acre foot of water saved for converting existing recirculating cooling systems over to dry cooling systems were found to be $9,315 per acre-foot of water saved. This cost is generally higher than most currently identified regional water development possibilities, only being competitive with the most expensive under current consideration. If cooling conversion is to be done it will more likely done to accommodate reductions in available water and increase in associated reliability. Analysis is also done on the demands placed on the electricity sector as the region evolves into the future. We find population growth, climate change and growing water demands substantially change electricity demand, cause construction of new power plant supply capacity, and increase cooling water use. In particular, power supply capacity is increased in order to meet the growing electricity demand from the population and new water supply projects. Also, in select cases, power plants retrofit recirculating cooling systems to dry cooling systems to conserve water.
Yang, Yingqian (2019). Economics of Possible Energy Sector Roles in a Food Energy Water Stressed Region. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from