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  • [ January 7, 2015 ]
  • Emerging Trend 2015: Energy Producers Will Face Fluctuating Water Needs Due To Climate Change

BY MARK C. PETRI, DIRECTOR IOWA ENERGY CENTER AND CHRIS CONETZKEY, EDITOR OF THE BUSINESS RECORD | IOWA ENERGY CENTER

The Business Record posted a story for it’s subscribers on January 6th about the 15 Industry Trends for 2015 . Included were 15 contributing authors, among them the President of Iowa State University, Steven Leath (HR & Education), the Iowa State Director of the Nature Conservancy, Jan Glendening (Ag & Development), and the Iowa Energy Center’s Director, Mark C. Petri (Energy & Utilities). Below is Mr. Petri’s predictions on the topic of Energy & Utilities in the coming year.

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Emerging Trend: Energy Production Will Be Increasingly Constrained By Water Availability

Impact : The interconnection between energy and water will intensify as the climate continues to change. Congress and federal agencies are looking to address this energy-water nexus, which could present challenges, but also opportunities, for Iowa businesses. Climate projections for Iowa suggest that, although overall precipitation will rise over the coming years, the state will be subject to more extremes of heavy rain (especially in the spring) and periods of drought (especially in the summer). This will affect energy production in two ways.

First, thermoelectric power production, such as from coal and nuclear plants, will have to accommodate uncertainties in cooling-water supply, possibly curtailing production during periods of extended drought. Compounding this concern, as average temperatures rise and the region sees more high-temperature extremes, the demand for electricity will grow. Indeed, the Midwest has seen an increasing frequency of major heat waves over the past 60 years.

Second, Iowa’s water-intensive bioenergy economy — the growing of energy crops and the chemical conversion of biomass to fuels — will have to adapt to extremes in water availability.

These challenges represent opportunities for business innovation, however. Dry-cooling, heat-recovery and advanced power cycle technologies for power plants are becoming more available. Alternative energy options that do not rely on water cooling, such as wind power and solar photovoltaics, are becoming more economical. Substantial research is underway to develop drought-tolerant energy crops and more water-efficient chemical conversion processes.

Originally printed from the Business Record’s post: 15 Industry Trends for 2015,  by Chris Conetzkey, editor of the Business Record

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