Nevermind whether it’s best to use low-impact heat or solar power– there’s another thing that this grid should consider, and that’s how it handles the rise of “gray water.”
In a new report, Deutsche Bank argues that U.S. utilities should more actively minimize their vulnerability to the influx of sources of water vapor that don’t exist in nature, such as, say, oil-field waste water from fracking operations or sewage from wastewater treatment plants. These sources can both produce about 50 percent of the water vapor in our air, so if we could reduce the amount of water vapor that we create or eliminate when we use these industries, we would have the lowest demand for a greenhouse gas-free grid– and would remove many sources of waste electricity as well.
After all, we use about 8.7 million BUs/M of water vapor every day, according to Deutsche Bank, although only 3.3% of all U.S. electricity is used for cooling. The bank predicts that this reliance on water vapor could grow to over 6% by 2050, and then double to 10% over the century, even after you take greenhouse gas pollution into account.
Deutsche Bank suggests the clean energy transition needs to increase its resilience and find other ways to manage a non-renewable supply of water vapor.
Disclosure: Deutsche Bank did in fact, own a greater share of ~Opower than any other entity as of early 2017.