A study has found that increasing the share of renewables in India’s energy mix could reduce water withdrawal and the consumption intensity of power generation.
The new policy brief co-authored by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the World Resources Institute (WRI) states that depending on the future energy pathways a power sector (excluding hydroelectricity) transformation driven by solar PV and wind, coupled with improved cooling technologies in thermal and other renewable power plants, could yield as much as an 84% decrease in water withdrawal intensity by 2030.
The brief, Water Use in India’s Power Generation – Impact of Renewables and Improved Cooling Technologies to 2030, states that the country could also lower annual water consumption intensity by 25% and reduce carbon emissions intensity by 43%, compared to 2014 levels.
The report builds off of the findings of a previous WRI report entitled Parched Power: Water Demands, Risks, and Opportunities for India’s Power Sector.
“India has emerged as a global leader in renewable energy achieving record-level growth in deployment, rapid cost reductions and many socio-economic benefits of the energy transformation,” explained Dr Henning Wuester, IRENA Director of the Knowledge, Policy and Finance Centre (KPFC).
Wuester added, “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.”
India’s energy mix water-reliant
More than four-fifths of India’s electricity is generated from coal, gas and nuclear power plants, which rely significantly on freshwater for cooling purposes.
Moreover, the power sector’s share in national water consumption is projected to grow from 1.4% to 9% between 2025 and 2050, placing further stress on water resources.
Renewable energy, with the added potential to reduce both water demand and carbon emissions, must hence be at the core of India’s energy future, the IRENA urged. Read more…
Dr O.P. Agarwal, CEO, WRI India, said: “India’s move towards renewable energy is essential, especially as water stress puts increasing pressure on India’s thermal power plants.
“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.”