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SPECIAL FEATURE Dependence on scarce water puts India’s electricity supply at risk New analysis finds over one third of India’s thermal power generation faces high water risk. By Leah Schleifer Although thermal power plants generate most of India’s electricity, they are not required to disclose how much water they consume. A new paper from the World Resources Institute, “Parched Power: Water Demands, Risks and Opportunities for India’s Power Sector”, analyses all of India’s 400+ thermal power plants and finds that India’s power supply is increasingly in jeopardy due to water shortages, costing power generation and revenue. Using a new methodology that WRI developed, researchers discovered that 90 percent of India’s thermal power plants depend on freshwater for cooling. This is significant because thermal power plants—which include coal, solar thermal, geothermal, waste incineration, petroleum and some natural gas power plants—generate almost all of India’s electricity. Combining this with WRI’s Aqueduct water risk analysis, the researchers found that nearly 40 percent of India’s freshwater-dependent thermal power plants experience high water stress. These plants are increasingly vulnerable, amidst India’s ongoing commitment to expanding electricity access for all. “Water shortages shut down power plants across India every year,” said O.P. Agarwal, CEO, WRI India. “When power plants rely on water sourced from scarce regions, they put electricity generation at risk and leave less water for cities, farms and families. Without urgent action, water will become a chokepoint for India’s power sector.” The Indian energy sector’s dependence on increasingly scarce water resources has serious consequences. From 2013 to 2016, 14 of India’s 20 largest thermal utility companies experienced one or more shutdowns due to water shortages. WRI calculates that shutdowns cost these companies over INR 91 billion ($1.4 billion) in potential revenue from the sale of power. And water shortages cancelled out more than 20 percent of India’s growth in electricity generation between 2015 and 2016. This problem is only set to worsen as India’s thermal power sector expands and competing water demands increase. Parched Power shows that by 2030, 70 percent of India’s thermal power plants are likely to experience increased competition for water from agriculture, industry and municipalities. “Our lack of knowledge about how much water India’s power sector is using makes the problem harder to solve,” said Dr Ivaturi N Rao, Head-Corporate Environment & Climate Change for Tata Power, India’s largest integrated power company. “The Government of India has recently mandated limits for specific water consumption at thermal power plants, which is a critical step forward. However, they should also create policy incentives for water conservation. This will help encourage water efficiency and innovation across the power sector.” The power sector’s dependence on limited water resources also carries risks for investors. Currently, power plants located in dry areas constitute stranded assets for investors, as they struggle to perform. WRI found that, on average, freshwater cooled thermal power plants located in areas of high water stress had a 21 percent lower average capacity factor than their peers in low and medium stress regions. “Investors like PGGM want to reduce exposure to risks across their portfolio and power plants are a critical part of this,” said Piet Klop, Senior Advisor for Responsible Investment, PGGM. “Water risks to power utilities are undeniable, and it’s time that power plants and their investors evaluate and mitigate their exposure.” The report offers solutions: mandate disclosure of water usage data; implement advanced cooling technologies; improve plant efficiency; and shift toward solar and wind energy. Current regulations by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MOEF-CC) and the Ministry of Power (MoP) call for increases in plant efficiency and set maximum bounds for water intensity, which should be enacted and enforced. India already has a robust target that 40 percent of its power supply will come from renewable sources by 2030, under the Paris Agreement on climate change. WRI found that meeting this target, along with implementing proposed efficiency mandates, can save India’s power sector 12.4 billion cubic meters of freshwater withdrawals. By prioritizing solar photovoltaic and wind energy in areas of high water stress, India can boost its resilience, save water, and reduce carbon. “Renewable energy is a viable solution to India’s waterenergy 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.” The paper was released during Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week at the World Future Energy Summit, together with a joint WRI-IRENA policy brief, “Water Use in India’s Power Generation: Impact of renewables and improved cooling technologies to 2030,” which details pathways for India’s power sector to reduce water usage and carbon emissions by 2030.AW 26 JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018 Asian Water

SPECIAL FEATURE PUB invites technology providers and researchers to develop solutions US$23 million grant call to develop solutions in water and used water treatment, industrial water, and smart technologies. Singapore’s water needs have spurred many innovative solutions, and R&D has been the key to achieving a robust and sustainable water supply. In continuing to cultivate R&D, Singapore’s National Water Agency PUB, has launched three Requests for Proposals (RFPs) to invite industry technology providers and researchers to develop solutions that will improve the effectiveness of water treatment processes and operations, and ensure water sustainability. Water demand is expected to double by 2060, with the non-domestic sector making up 70% of demand then. More energy-intensive sources such as NEWater and desalinated water will meet up to 85% of Singapore’s water needs then too. It is important to maximise water efficiency and lower energy use in water and used water treatment. Mr Harry Seah, PUB’s Assistant Chief Executive (Future Systems and Technology), said, “Investing in R&D is important for PUB to develop innovative water solutions that can improve the efficiency of water treatment and keep our water supply sustainable. Through continuous R&D over the years, we have identified several promising technologies. We want to work with technology providers and researchers to develop these technologies further and demonstrate their commercial viability.” The first RFP targets specific technologies in enhancing energy efficiency of the water and used water treatment process. For water treatment, it aims to reduce the energy consumption of desalination and NEWater through biomimicry. This involves exploring water channels or transporters that use very low energy, such as aquaporins derived from specific species of microorganism, fish and mangrove plants, as well as synthetic channels, for incorporation into biomimetic membranes. For used water treatment, the RFP targets to achieve energy self-sufficient water reclamation plants through Anaerobic Membrane Bioreactors incorporating the Anammox process, and/or other innovative nutrients removal/recovery process. This aims to minimise the energy needed to treat used water and recover more energy from the process, such that used water treatment uses only as much energy as it generates. The second RFP aims to enhance water efficiency in industries through water recycling or reducing water consumption. Proposals are to be submitted by the industrial or commercial host, in collaboration with an identified technology provider. The third RFP looks at enhancing operational efficiency by leveraging on smart technologies such as robotics, drones, automation, data analytics and informatics, and video analytics, to minimise manpower required in operations and maintenance. An amount of S$30 million (US$22.7 million) has been allocated for the three RFPs. The RFPs are part of the Research, Innovation and Enterprise (RIE) 2020 Plan under the Competitive Research Programme (Water). In 2006, water was identified as a key growth industry, and funding of S$670 million from the NRF has been committed over 15 years (2006 – 2020) to foster leadingedge technologies and create a thriving and vibrant research community in Singapore. Companies that can bring the proposed water technology to market can submit their proposals. Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) or Research Institutes (RIs) can also collaborate with an industrial partner that could accelerate the commercialisation/translation of the project and submit a joint proposal. AW Asian Water JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018 27

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