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Water Scarcity Leaves Asia’s Power Plants Inoperative

Climate change could impact developing economies in Asia by reducing the supply of water necessary to cool power plants that burn coal for energy production, as shown in a study published by the Energy and Environment Science Journal.

Without a steady streamflow, power plants’ abilities to operate properly is impaired, as they run on coal, nuclear or natural gas, and require water provided by rainfall for cooling.

As shown in the report, Asia’s developing economies aiming to increase their coal power plant capacity by more than 400 GW until 2030, are even further increasing their power outage risk.

Researchers have evaluated the potential risk of water shortage by applying different climate scenarios (increase in global temperature of 1.5, 2 and 3 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels) and considering different cooling systems together with post-combustion CO2 capture equipments, in the context of increasing the capacity of coal power plants. Numbers show that there is not enough renewable water available for each new power plant put into function, and this creates a tension between the need for economic development and protecting the environment.

Similar issues will be faced by some of the European countries. As already mentioned in the EU’s long term vision, thermal electricity output (both coal and nuclear) will suffer most from water availability in the near future in the Mediterranean basin, France, Germany and Poland.

Source: Science Daily

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