What is it about?

Thermal power stations, primarily coal-fired power plants, produce most of the world's electricity. These plants rely on water for cooling, and a water shortage could lower their energy output. This necessitates the proper deployment of water availability into the energy infrastructure. This study examined the water constraints encountered by coal-fired power plants in Developing Asia, where new plants are being planned or constructed, magnifying the water demand. The authors estimated the water utilities of existing and planned coal-fired power plants using high-resolution simulations and datasets, and discovered that Mongolia, Southeast Asia, and areas of India and China could suffer far greater water limitations under the current power plant expansion plans.

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Why is it important?

The authors proposed some critical solutions to handle the water scarcity in Developing Asia. Providing an equitable and selective distribution of locally accessible water could reduce the competition between power plants for water. In water-scarce areas, this can be accomplished by limiting the number of coal-fired power stations. A regional cooperation for the establishment of ‘electricity markets’ could be useful in avoiding water shortages in areas with multiple power plants. Despite the fact that ‘dry cooling’ has been previously proposed as a way to eliminate the need of water by thermal stations, this study found that due to higher air temperatures and humidity in South Asia, it may result in large losses in thermal efficiency. However, in Northern Asian countries where such harsh weather conditions do not exist, it can be widely used. KEY TAKEAWAY: By assessing the impact of the water availability on coal-fired power output in Developing Asia, the study addresses the issue of global energy-water confluence in real time. Effective energy planning should consider the future of thermal power resources in the face of climate change. This research relates to the following Sustainable Development Goals: • SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation • SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy • SDG 13: Climate Action • SDG 9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure • SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Vulnerability of existing and planned coal-fired power plants in Developing Asia to changes in climate and water resources, Energy & Environmental Science, January 2019, Royal Society of Chemistry,
DOI: 10.1039/c9ee02058f.
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