Energy Excursions

How Much Water Powers Texas?

Understanding the relationship between water, energy, and electricity generation is vital for making important decisions. The energy sources we use to power our homes are constantly evolving, especially today in the midst of an energy transition. Decision makers must take water resource supply and demand into consideration to ensure we will not face water scarcity in the future. 

Design Challenge

This design challenge will allow you to take the opportunity to work through these challenges and important decisions on your own! In Part 1 of the Design Challenge, you will be asked to work through an activity sheet that calculates how much water Texas uses annually1based on 2020 ERCOT numbers for electricity generation. Next, you will envision a fuel mix based on proposed market demand drivers that favor natural gas, wind, and nuclear. You will go through the same calculations to determine projected water use based on this anticipated scenario.

To begin, click on the button below and walk through the activity sheet to complete Part 1 of the Design Challenge. After you finish working with the activity sheet, complete the review questions below to assess your learning.

Tables A and B Review Questions 

Table A: What energy source contributes to the highest percentage of electricity generation?

Natural Gas

Correct

Solar (PV)

Incorrect

Wind

Incorrect

Table A: What energy source contributes to the lowest percentage of electricity generation?

Natural Gas

Incorrect

Solar (PV)

Correct

Wind

Incorrect

Table B: What energy source is the most water intensive?

Coal

Incorrect

Nuclear

Correct

Wind

Incorrect

Table B: What energy source is the least water intensive?

Natural Gas

Incorrect

Solar (PV)

Incorrect

Wind

Correct

Tables C and D Review Questions 


True or False: This proposed mix of energy sources for power generation is less water intensive than the mix for 2021?

True

Correct

This mix of sources for electricity generation is only slightly less water intensive because the increase in nuclear (+2%), a very water intensive energy source, serves to offset the water savings from a decrease in coal (-10%).

False

Incorrect

What is the difference in total water consumed between the 2021 energy mix (Table B) and the proposed one that you calculated (Table D)?

4.3 billion gallons

Correct. The difference between 127.4 (2021 data) and 123.1 (proposed scenario) billion gallons. A drop of about 3% from 2021 with the scenario proposed in Tables C and D.

20.3 billion gallons

Incorrect

39.1 billion gallons

Incorrect

107.7 billion gallons

Incorrect

Tables E and F Review Questions 

 
What is the difference in total water consumed between the 2021 energy mix (Tables A and B) and the proposed one that you calculated (Tables E and F) where the decrease in power generation by coal is completely offset by an increase in power generation from wind?

The mix would be even more water intensive than the data show for 2021.

Incorrect

The mix would be even less water intensive than the data show for 2021.

Correct. The water consumed would be 109.0 billion gallons for this new mix, as opposed to 127.4 billion gallons consumed in 2021. A decrease of almost 14% in water consumption for power generation.

The amount of water used to power our grid would not change significantly with a 10% decrease in coal matched by a 10% increase in wind for electricity generation.

Incorrect

Oklahoma Academic Standards
TEKS Standards
College Board Units and Topics
Next Generation Science Standards