Estimated Energy and Emissions Impacts of Pumping Pacific Ocean Water to Great Salt Lake
Great Salt Lake has receded in recent years. Among many options proposed to augment inflows is a pipeline from the Pacific Ocean. To inform discussion, we estimate a lower bound for the ongoing energy requirements, assuming one-third of the recommended additional inflow will be pumped through a single, smooth, large-diameter diameter pipeline along a fictitious, shortest route without mountains. Accordingly, pumping would require at least 400 megawatts of electricity during operation, an amount equivalent to a large power plant, or 11% of Utah’s annual electricity demand. Given current energy prices and fuel mixes, the electricity would cost over $300,000,000 annually and emit nearly 1,000,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, equivalent to 200,000 passenger vehicles. The figures could easily triple with longer routes, mountainous terrain, higher flows, smaller diameters, multiple pipelines, less-efficient pumps, and any required treatment. We present this estimate trusting that feasibility studies will include complete details.