At a time when 11 states are facing drought-like situation, Greenpeace India today said the amount of fresh water being consumed by the country’s coal-fired power plants can meet the basic water needs of about 25 crore people and also accused the government of having “myopic” view on managing India’s water resource.
The green NGO released data related to water consumption patterns of coal power plants in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Chhattisgarh which are facing drought-like situation.
The coal-fired power plants in these states consume water that could meet the basic needs of 50 million people for a year, it said.
According to Greenpeace data, if all the proposed power plants in these seven states are taken into account, then the amount of water consumed by them could increase by three times.
The water crisis this year has highlighted the urgency of shifting to a diversified energy model that reduces India’s reliance on coal power to save water and prevent power outages, it said.
“A Greenpeace India analysis of a report released in March this year estimates that the total freshwater consumption of coal power plants in India is 4.6 billion cubic metres per year.
“This is enough to meet the basic water needs of 251 million (25.1 crore) people. This figure will more than double if all proposed plants are built,” Greenpeace said in a statement.
It said coal power plants are amongst the most intensive industrial users of fresh water and despite this being a drought year, water consumption of coal power plants in India has not received sufficient attention from policy makers and government.
“It is particularly deplorable for the government to continue promoting more coal power plants, including in water scarce regions, instead of investing in renewable energy solutions that would reduce the water burden as well as our contributions to climate change,” said Jai Krishna, Greenpeace Campaigner.
Greenpeace India said some companies have been forced to shut down plants this year due to the severe water crisis, affecting grid stability as well as company revenues.
“This is a recipe for disaster. The next time we have below-normal rainfall, the crisis will be felt in farmlands, urban homes and boardrooms alike,” said Jai Krishna.
The NGO said the water crisis of 2016 has highlighted the urgency of shifting to a diversified energy model that reduces India’s reliance on coal power, to save water and prevent power outages.
The water consumption for solar and wind energy is negligible in comparison to coal and the government’s ambitious 175 GW target for wind and solar energy holds the key to securing both water and electricity supplies in water stressed regions, it said.
Elaborating about Maharashtra, it said the total capacity of power plants operating in the state which use fresh water in cooling towers and cooling ponds is 14,660 MW while these coal power plants altogether consume about 350 million cubic metres of water each year.
On the other hand, the total capacity of power plants in Madhya Pradesh which use fresh water in cooling towers is 9344 MW and these coal-based power plants altogether consume about 222 million cubic metres of water each year.