New Delhi: With India’s growing requirement for electricity, water consumption by power plants is set to rise significantly leaving less for regular use, warned two reports released this week.
The reports indicated a need for regulation to ensure better use of water by industry, especially the several existing and planned thermal-based power plants that require large quantities of water.
“The thermal power sector accounts for the highest water use amongst all industrial sectors. Rising power demand will mean greater generation; this in turn would lead to high water consumption,” Naina Lal Kidwai, country head at HSBC in India and head of the water group at the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), said at an event on Tuesday.
She was speaking at the release of a report titled ‘Water Use and Efficiency in Thermal Power Plants’. The report states that power generation will require 33 billion cubic metres of water in 2025 and about 70 bcm in 2050.
One cubic metre of water is equivalent to 1,000 litres.
“The standing committee of the ministry of water resources predicts a three-fold increase in water demand for the thermal power sector during the period 2010-2050,” Kidwai said.
“Coal-fired power plants are extremely water intensive, particularly in India where typical plants consume 5-7 cubic meters of water per Megawatt hour, while plants built more recently with the latest technology use 3.5-4 cubic meters of water/Mwh,” environment advocacy group Greenpeace said in its report released Tuesday.
It added that 71 proposed coal plants in drought-prone Vidarbha in Maharashtra would consume water enough to irrigate more than 410,000 hectares of land. Mint could not independently verify this.
The FICCI-HSBC report quoted an April 2010 report produced by HSBC and the World Resource Institute titled ‘Over Heating’ that said 79% of the power generation capacity planned in India at the time was proposed in water-stressed or water-scarce areas.
Speaking at the FICCI-HSBC event, Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia noted that industry, especially the power industry, was a heavy water guzzler.
The government needs to nudge industry towards best practices in water use efficiency through a combination of regulation and rational pricing of water, Ahluwalia said, adding that voluntary sharing of best practices as suggested by the FICCI-HSBC report may not be enough to achieve this.
Utpal Bhaskar contirbuted to this story.