Water-energy dependence around Pacific Rim mapped

A wide-ranging analysis of water vulnerability across the Pacific—including the U.S., China, Russia and Japan—has identified hundreds of locations where energy production depends upon scarce water supplies. The Sandia National Laboratories study, “Mapping Water Consumption for Energy Production Around the Pacific Rim,” was published in Environmental Research Letters. Prepared for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the first-of-its-kind report maps out every power plant, refinery and mine in 21 Asia-Pacific economies that rely on fresh water for energy. Simultaneously, it shows the data in context to regions at high to extreme risk of drought and dwindling natural water supplies. “This is the first time we have worked on a project of this scale to illustrate how much fresh water is used for energy development,” said Sandia hydrologist Vince Tidwell, who co-authored the report with technologist Barbie Moreland. “The purpose was to lay out a foundation to raise awareness in these economies about energy-water issues and vulnerabilities they are facing.”

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