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AWARE-US: Quantifying Water Stress Impacts of Energy Systems in the United States


Lee, Uisung; Xu, Hui; Daystar, Jesse; Elgowainy, Amgad; Wang, Michael


Energy production typically consumes a large amount of fresh water, which is a critical resource for both human and ecosystem needs. Robust water impact analysis is prudent prior to deploying new energy systems at scale. While there are many water indices representing relative water availability (or scarcity), they are not suitable for analyzing the impact of consumptive water in the context of life-cycle analysis (LCA). The available water remaining (AWARE) concept, developed by the Water Use in LCA Group, enables global water impact analysis (AWARE-Global). However, while AWARE-Global enables consistent comparison internationally, it lacks the high spatial resolution and fidelity needed for decision-making at the local level regarding energy system deployment within the United States (U.S.). In this study, we developed an AWARE system for applications in the contiguous U.S. (AWARE-US) by incorporating measured runoff and human water use data at U.S. county-level resolution. Results of AWARE-US quantify the water stress and the impacts of increase in water consumption in various regions within the U.S. To demonstrate the potential use of AWARE-US, we evaluated the impacts of a potential hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle deployment scenario on the regional water stress in various regions within the U.S.



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