India’s power sector has often been impacted by water scarcity due to the over-dependence on coal-fired plants, which require much cooling, and that can reportedly change with the enhanced use of green power (renewable energy).
India’s energy is mostly generated from fossil-fuel-powered thermal power plants. In the context, fourteen of the country’s 20 largest thermal power utility companies have reportedly experienced disruptions due to water scarcity in the period between 2013 and 2016. This has amounted to a loss of over $1.4 billion in potential revenue, according to the World Resources Institute (WRI). Tianyi Luo, the co-author of the WRI report, reiterated that water shortages are a threat to power companies in India. According to Pricewaterhouse Coopers, India is expanding its power supplies to meet the demands of a growing economy, which is expected to double by 2030.
Luo added that climate change would cause more intense droughts and change in rainfall patterns that would place additional stress on water supplies. In this scenario, the government has added rules to reduce the amount of water that is used by power stations. And, WRI stated that the country would need to keep the fossil fuel power generation in check to meet its own ambitious renewable energy goals and also implement its stringent water regulations on power plants.
Meanwhile, Karthik Ganesan, a research fellow at the Delhi-based Council of Energy, Environment, and Water, said that the growing use of solar power would reduce the reliance on water for power generation. According to the International Energy Agency, India is expected to double more than its current renewable electricity by 2022. And, Niklas Höhne, a climate emissions expert at the Germany-based NewClimate Institute, which tracks countries’ emission reduction policies, said that due to the cost of renewables dropping, the government has decided to scale back some of its plans to build new coal-fired power plants. He added that the changes in India are the fastest in the context of building a lot of renewable energy.