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Environ Sci Technol. 2015 Mar 17;49(6):3314-21. doi: 10.1021/es505034x. Epub 2015 Mar 4.

The water footprint of California's energy system, 1990-2012.

Author information

1
†University of California Berkeley, Energy and Resources Group, Berkeley, California 94720, United States.
2
‡Pacific Institute, Oakland, California 94612, United States.

Abstract

California's energy and water systems are interconnected and have evolved in recent decades in response to changing conditions and policy goals. For this analysis, we use a water footprint methodology to examine water requirements of energy products consumed in California between 1990 and 2012. We combine energy production, trade, and consumption data with estimates of the blue and green water footprints of energy products. We find that while California's total annual energy consumption increased by just 2.6% during the analysis period, the amount of water required to produce that energy grew by 260%. Nearly all of the increase in California's energy-related water footprint was associated with water use in locations outside of California, where energy products that the state consumes were, and continue to be, produced. We discuss these trends and the implications for California's future energy system as it relates to climate change and expected water management challenges inside and outside the state. Our analysis shows that while California's energy policies have supported climate mitigation efforts, they have increased vulnerability to climate impacts, especially greater hydrologic uncertainty. More integrated analysis and planning are needed to ensure that climate adaptation and mitigation strategies do not work at cross purposes.

PMID:
25719565
DOI:
10.1021/es505034x
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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