How Energy Plays a Role in Water Usage

March 26, 2014 By Zbigniew Barwicz

Zbigniew Barwicz

The UN World Water Day aims to raise global awareness of water usage and conservation. As part of #WorldWaterDay, here are some thoughts on the important role energy plays in water usage.

Water is required to produce nearly all forms of energy, and energy is needed at all stages of water extraction, treatment and distribution. This infographic compares different energy generation methods and how much water each of them consumes.

world water day infographic


  • Water and energy are closely interlinked and interdependent. Energy generation and transmission consume water resources, particularly for hydroelectric, nuclear, and thermal energy sources. Similarly, about 8 percent of global energy generation is used for pumping, treating and transporting water to various consumers.
  • When people consider going solar, they’re often thinking about their pocketbooks, not the planet. That’s because homeowners save an average of $84 a month when they switch to solar.
  • And when people do think about saving the planet with their solar panels, they’re probably thinking more often about the incredible amounts of carbon pollution they’ll be eliminating by switching to clean energy.
  • But a lesser-known fact about solar is that it also saves lots of water. Given the devastating drought that’s hit the western US, selecting an energy source that requires no water is a smart choice.


  • Coal power plants consume 100-1,100 gallons of water per MWh — equivalent to 2 Olympic-size swimming pools.
  • Nuclear power plants consume 600-800 gallons of water per MWh — 1.5 Olympic-size swimming pools.
  • Natural gas power plants consume 20-300 gallons of water per MWh — 0.5 Olympic-size swimming pools.
  • Solar power, meanwhile, consumes zero gallons of water.

Zbigniew Barwicz is president and CEO of Pure Energies Group. A serial entrepreneur who was nominated for the Canadian Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2009, Zbig has built technology companies, structured sophisticated partnerships, and managed complex finance deals. He is focused on sustainability and cleantech—particularly solar energy—to combat climate change. Zbig has lived in Europe, Africa and North America, and visited 44 countries on six continents. He looks forward to his first step on Antarctica.


Leave a reply