Solar Technology Roadmap Act
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Ms. TITUS. Mr. Chairman, I thank Chairman Gordon and Ms. Giffords for your leadership on the important issue of energy research, development and deployment in the area of renewables.
My amendment, offered with Mr. Teague of New Mexico and Mr. Cohen of Tennessee, simply requires that the solar energy research, development and demonstration program and the solar technology road map that are authorized in this bill include an emphasis on the development of solar technology that is water-efficient.
We know that some of the sunniest States in the country, like my State of Nevada, are also among the driest. So while I strongly believe we must make significant investments to expand solar energy development across the Southwest, I also believe that we must ensure that investments are made in research and development of new solar technologies that use less water.
This point was brought out rather dramatically in a recent New York Times article entitled ``Alternative Energy Projects Stumble on a Need for Water.'' In fact, depending on the technology, some solar plants can use more than 1 billion gallons of water a year for cooling.
It was quoted in the article, ``When push comes to shove, water could become the real throttle on renewable energy.'' This was a statement made by Michael E. Webber, an assistant professor at the University of Texas in Austin, who studies the relationship between energy and water.
Now, to date, this conflict between energy and water has occurred mostly in the Southwest, where there are dozens of multibillion dollar solar power plants that are planned for thousands of acres in the desert.
While most forms of energy production include some kind of water, water's availability is especially limited in the sunny areas that are otherwise well suited for solar farms. So as we can see, this could possibly lead to a new-age version of a western water war. Long have we heard the saying in the West that whiskey is for drinking and water is worth fighting over. We don't want to see that happen again.
And furthermore, as we see more solar development spread across the country, it's likely that the water efficiency of solar technology will become a key concern, not just in the Southwest, but in areas that haven't historically dealt with water issues up until this point. Investing in research that, as we develop solar technologies, are water efficient is a win-win for the environment. We will use less fossil fuel and less water.
At the same time we do this, we have the potential to remove a major obstacle to the speedy siting of utility scale renewable energy projects. Those are occurring in States like mine where water concerns can slow the permitting process dramatically.
Investments in the development of solar technology products that are water efficient will save water, they will save energy, and they will ultimately bring down the cost of these products so that we can move more quickly to a clean energy economy.
So I thank you again, Mr. Chairman, and I reserve the balance of my time.
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