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Water problems threaten India's energy security

11:15 AM Sep 07, 2021 IST | Wahid Bhat
water problems threaten india s energy security

Ground Report | New Delhi: Water problems threaten India’s; Global warming is increasingly affecting water resources. The changes in rainfall patterns are endangering millions of people watching rainfall is becoming rarer but more violent. And the monsoons are no exception.

Water problems threaten India’s energy security

Monsoons are the main drivers of global water cycles. These seasonal winds that run from south to north in summer, laden with rains, especially affect the Indian Ocean and South Asia and produce 80% of the annual precipitation in the areas through which it passes. Monsoons have a great impact on the economy, agriculture, and culture of Asian countries, especially India, and their effects can be devastating. In this country, rainfall, in general, has been more irregular in recent years


The start of the 2021 monsoon season was a promising time for Indian farmers and water users. Heavy rains in June and early July filled the country’s reservoirs in states like Maharashtra and Telangana. The abundance of water was also good for the country’s thermal power plants, many of which depend on freshwater for their operation.

But what felt like an encouraging start has since turned into concern. The monsoon subsided in the second half of July and data shows that reservoirs in India overall have 6% less water stored today than during the same time last year and are only half full.


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This is a major problem for the country’s energy sector that supplies an overpopulation of 1,366 million people. Research by the World Resources Institute (WRI) shows that thermal energy, which constitutes more than 70% of India’s total electricity generation and 60% of its installed energy capacity, is highly dependent on freshwater for energy. cooling and the industry is increasingly thirsty.


The connection between water and energy

According to the WRI projected water stress country rankings, water stress, the imbalance between demand and supply of water, is worsening in India due to population growth, increased use of water for agriculture and industry, and the decrease in rainfall due to climate change. Projections show that more than two-thirds of the country’s power plants will face high water stress by the end of the decade.


India’s energy sector is already feeling the consequences of water shortages. When dry spells occur and monsoon rains are weak, both hydroelectric and thermal power production, the backbone of India’s power grid, lack a critical resource for their operation.

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In 2016, during one of the worst droughts in the country, water-related outages at thermal power plants were enough to meet Sri Lanka’s annual demand, costing utilities billions in lost revenue. Since then, and despite the years with more rainfall, data from the Indian Ministry of Energy shows that between 2017 and 2021, there have been approximately 8.2 terawatt-hours (TWh) in lost energy production due to lack of water. . That is enough electricity to power 1.5 million Indian households for five years.

Water stress projection by region in India for 2030.

People affected by floods will double in 2030

But the lack of water is not the only source of concern. Excess can also expose weaknesses in India’s energy sector. In early 2021, floods caused by Cyclone Yaas caused power outages that affected 14 of the 23 districts of West Bengal, a state in which more than 90 million people live. Similar stories have occurred in cities like Noida and Mumbai.

While the floods do not affect India’s electricity generation, they do threaten transmission and distribution infrastructure, with problems such as substations flooded by water or transmission poles hit by debris.

Globally, the situation is set to get worse, with projections showing that the number of people affected by floods will double between 2010 and 2030, due to climate change, population growth, development, and land subsidence. The most recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projects that the global alert will further intensify the variability of the water cycle, monsoon rainfall, and the severity of dry and wet extremes.

Ultimately, for India’s rapidly developing society, power outages caused by floods or droughts affect people’s livelihoods and their ability to work, study, or receive health care, multiplying the impacts of shocks. extreme weather events related to water.

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Wahid Bhat

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