Why do we need Water4Power?
Increasing urbanization, rising food demand, and growth in other industrial sectors compete with the energy sector for limited water resources. Due to growing energy demand, freshwater consumption by Indian thermal power plants has grown by 43% – increasing from 1.5 to 2.1 billion cubic meters a year from 2011 to 2016. Rising energy demand, coupled with increasing competition over water, has threatened India’s energy security.
Thermal power plants generate around 62% of India’s electricity and rely heavily on freshwater for cooling. Lack of water limits the operation of water-intensive power plants and impacts electricity supply. Between 2015 and 2016, power shutdowns incurred a loss of INR 91 billion ($1.4 billion) in potential ‘sale of power’ revenue. Furthermore, water shortages during this time limited India’s growth in electricity generate by 15%.
Water-intensive power plants also siphon water away from essential food production, and the daily needs of cities, businesses, and households. As both the water supply requirements and energy use grow, all stakeholders (policymakers, government leaders, investors, power producers, civil society organizations and commercial/ industrial consumers) need to understand the relationship between water-intensive power production and risk to water availability in order to take informed decisions.
Given that the water scarcity scenario is expected to worsen in India, it is even more pressing to quickly transition into water prudent power production to prevent future water scarcity-driven electricity outages and its impact on the needs of households, cities, and food production.
With publicly available satellite observations, high-performance cloud computing technologies and deep learning modelling techniques, power plant-specific water risk information (water scarcity and drought indicators and forecasts) and forecasting data will be made available for access through web-based platforms in near real-time.
This scientific and transparent water risk information and forecasting data will help drive continued on-the-ground, evidence-driven decision-making related to future energy development, and operation of existing power plants in water-stressed scenarios, as well as advance the social right to water in a highly competitive water use landscape.
Ultimately, this initiative will assist all stakeholders in transitioning from water-intensive to water prudent power production, which includes transitioning to clean energy, decarbonization and improving water use efficiency, by leveraging the power plant specific water risk information and forecasting data.
We believe that this new data-driven solution offers a complementary window of opportunity, to better integrate future water and energy planning decisions and investments, and will assist in the improvement of overall social, economic and environmental outcomes.