Increasing Renewable Energy In India Can Reduce Emissions, Water Use, & Supply Risk
Increasing the share of renewable energy sources in India’s electricity mix and implementing changes in cooling technologies for thermal power plants could serve not only to reduce the country’s carbon emissions intensity, but could also substantially reduce water consumption, mitigating or outright eliminating electricity supply risk due to water shortages.
Specifically, WRI determined that 40% of India’s thermal power plants are located in high water-stress areas, and 14 of India’s 20 largest thermal utilities experienced at least one shutdown due to water shortages between 2013 and 2016, resulting in costs of $1.4 billion.
70% of India’s thermal power plants will face high water-stress by 2030 due to climate change and increased demands from other sectors if direct action isn’t taken soon.
According to WRI, freshwater consumption by thermal power plants grew by 43% between 2011 and 2016, from 1.5 to 2.1 billion cubic meters per year.
Nevertheless, water shortages cost India approximately 14 terawatt-hours (TWh) of potential thermal power generation, which resulted in cancelling out 20% of the growth in the country’s electricity generation from 2015.
The WRI report, Parched Power: Water Demands, Risks and Opportunities for India’s Power Sector, was accompanied by a joint report between WRI and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), Water Use in India’s Power Generation – Impact of Renewables and Improved Cooling Technologies to 2030, which outlines a suggested pathway to mitigate water shortage by increasing renewable energy capacity and implementing changes in cooling technologies.
“Scaling up the use of renewables, especially solar PV and wind, will yield further benefits, in particular long-term reductions in the dependency of the power sector on freshwater.” “Renewable energy is a viable solution to India’s water-energy crisis,” said Deepak Krishnan, Manager, Energy Program, WRI India and co-author of the report.
“Solar PV and wind power can thrive in the same water-stressed areas where thermal plants struggle, so accelerating renewables can lower India’s water risk while meeting our NDC.” “India’s move towards renewable energy is essential, especially as water stress puts increasing pressure on India’s thermal power plants,” added Dr Agarwal.
“Water risks to thermal power plants cannot be ignored when considering the cost of thermal energy.
Renewables, especially solar PV and wind energy, present a win-win solution for both water and climate.”