26 Mar 2013:
China’s Utility Giants
Vulnerable to Water Scarcity, Report Says
China’s five largest power utilities, which depend on water-intensive, coal-fired stations to generate electricity, are vulnerable to water supply disruptions because they are centered in the country’s water-scarce northern regions, a new report says. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance
, the five power
China’s Looming Conflict
Between Energy and Water
In its quest to find new sources of energy, China is increasingly looking to its western provinces. But as Christina Larson
writes, these efforts have so far ignored a basic fact — western China simply lacks the water resources needed to support major new energy development.
READ THE e360 REPORT
generators — Huaneng, Datang, Huadian, Guodian, and China Power Investment — operate hundreds of gigawatts of thermal plants in the industrial northeast, where water resources are increasingly strained. Eighty-five percent of China’s power-generating capacity is in water scarce regions, said Maxime Serrano Bardisa, one of the report’s coauthors. The report said that major technical and policy shifts will be required to avert serious disruptions, including the addition of systems that use less water, such as closed-cycle or air-cooled systems. Such improvements could cost the utilities $20 billion in retrofit costs, the report said. “With some regions already extracting water from aquifers faster than it is being replenished, increases in power sector water withdrawals could be more than challenging — they could be environmentally unsustainable,” according to the energy group.