Water shortage related power shut offs in 2016 ranging from days to months, cost India about 14 tera watt-hours (TWh) of thermal electricity generation which is sufficient to power Sri Lanka for an entire year, as per a report by World Resources Institute. In India, thermal power plants and hydroelectric plants are both affected highly by non availability of water. The scarcity of water is proving to be a threat to the country’s thermal power sector and it might escalate into a matter of social tension between power producers, governments and consumers. The worst situation was faced by the Parli Thermal Power Station in Maharashtra when it lost a very large share and was shut down for 89 days in 2016 due to water shortages. Apart from that, it was also paralyzed for 196 days which resulted in Parli losing about $455 million in revenue.
“Climate change is likely to increase the frequency and intensity of droughts, and socio-economic development will intensify local water competition. In the coming decades, we expect more water shortage-induced power shutdowns, unless steps are taken to reduce these risks,” said Research Associate, Water Program, Tianyi Luo. Furthermore, the analysis also pointed out that thermal power plants could reduce water risk by adopting less water-dependent cooling technologies, such as dry cooling. A methodology is being developed by WRI to estimate water withdrawal and consumption for thermal power plants using satellite imagery for data scarce regions. “As demand for energy grows and climate change impacts water amounts and timing, this kind of analysis will become vital for all countries,” added Luo. Read more