Not just what we eat, but how we produce our energy has impact on water. China’s and India’s plans to build more coal-fired power plants to meet electricity needs aren’t feasible according to GE because of a lack of water needed to cool the plants World Resources Institute reports that 79 percent of India’s new power capacity is being built in areas of limited water availability.
Coal-fired power plants are extremely water intensive, particularly in India where typical plants consume 5-7 cubic meters of water per Megawatt hour, while plants built more recently with the latest technology use 3.5-4 cubic meters of water/Mwh.
Almost 71 proposed coal plants in drought-prone Vidarbha in Maharashtra would consume water enough to irrigate more than 410,000 hectares of land. But guess what, the clean alternative, nuclear plants, need 25% more water than coal based plants! Where will the water come from in various parts of the water-stressed country? Does anyone make these calculations or analysis before commissioning a nuclear plant? With falling agriculturing productivity, can we afford diverting more water away from irrigation?