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Freshwater for Cooling Needs: A Long-Run Approach to the Nuclear Water Footprint in Spain

Listed author(s):
  • Sesma Martín, Diego
  • Rubio-Varas, Mª. del Mar
Registered author(s):

    From the invention of the steam engine to the present, water has represented a significant input to the energy system, although this has been mostly ignored in the literature. In Spain, the most arid country in Europe, studies about water footprint typically just consider domestic, agricultural and industrial water uses, but water requirements for the electricity sector are omitted despite our dependence on thermal power. It has been demonstrated that for each available cooling technology, nuclear needs and consumption of water tend to be larger per MWh generated. We calculate a first approximation to the Spanish nuclear water footprint from 1969 to 2014. Our results show that while water consumed by Spanish nuclear power plants are around 3 m3 per capita/year, water withdrawals per capita/year are around 70 m3. Moreover, our analysis allows extracting conclusions focusing on a River Basins approach. What is the water impact of our nuclear power plants? Will water limit our energy future? These are some of the issues at stake.

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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0921800916314094
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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Ecological Economics.

    Volume (Year): 140 (2017)
    Issue (Month): C ()
    Pages: 146-156

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:140:y:2017:i:c:p:146-156
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2017.04.032
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/ecolecon

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    1. Duarte, Rosa & Sanchez-Choliz, Julio & Bielsa, Jorge, 2002. "Water use in the Spanish economy: an input-output approach," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 71-85, November.
    2. Anna Delgado & Diego J. Rodriguez & Antonia A. Sohns, 2015. "Thirsty Energy : Understanding the Linkages between Energy and Water," World Bank Other Operational Studies 21576, The World Bank.
    3. Ignacio Cazcarro & Rosa Duarte & Miguel Martín-Retortillo & Vicente Pinilla & Ana Serrano, 2015. "How Sustainable is the Increase in the Water Footprint of the Spanish Agricultural Sector? A Provincial Analysis between 1955 and 2005–2010," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(5), pages 1-26, April.
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    6. Feeley, Thomas J. & Skone, Timothy J. & Stiegel, Gary J. & McNemar, Andrea & Nemeth, Michael & Schimmoller, Brian & Murphy, James T. & Manfredo, Lynn, 2008. "Water: A critical resource in the thermoelectric power industry," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 1-11.
    7. Cazcarro, Ignacio & Duarte, Rosa & Sánchez-Chóliz, Julio, 2013. "Economic growth and the evolution of water consumption in Spain: A structural decomposition analysis," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(C), pages 51-61.
    8. Berbel, J. & Gomez-Limon, J. A., 2000. "The impact of water-pricing policy in Spain: an analysis of three irrigated areas," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 219-238, March.
    9. Velazquez, Esther, 2006. "An input-output model of water consumption: Analysing intersectoral water relationships in Andalusia," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 226-240, February.
    10. Siddiqi, Afreen & Anadon, Laura Diaz, 2011. "The water-energy nexus in Middle East and North Africa," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(8), pages 4529-4540, August.
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