Water scarcity could cripple China’s energy supplyApril 3, 2013
Water scarcity may cause significant energy disruptions
Water is of vital importance to the world. It not only plays a role in the ongoing survival of the human species, as well as others, but it is also widely used in the world of energy. While fossil-fuels are used to generate much of the electrical power that the world relies on, water is used as a means to produce power as well. Approximately 90% of the electrical power generated around the world comes from steam turbines, and the majority of this steam is generated through the burning of fossil-fuels like coal and oil. Water scarcity, therefore, may have a major impact on the world of energy.
Report highlights the importance of water to China’s energy structure
According to a new study from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, China is particularly exposed to the potential threat of water scarcity. The study shows that China’s five largest utilities, often referred to as the “Big Five,” are located in regions that are prone to the severe effects of water supply disruptions. Without an adequate water supply, these utilities would not be able to generate enough electrical power for the country, leading to mass blackouts and an almost all encompassing halt to industry.
Without water, utilities may not be able to produce enough electrical power for the country
The study notes that the Big Five operate one of the largest energy systems in the world, but this system relies heavily on a comprehensive water supply. According to Bloomberg, many of the vital parts of this expansive energy system are located in regions where water is already scarce. The study suggests that climatic changes could exacerbate the issue, making water even more difficult to find in these regions than it already is. The study claims that such climatic events are already underway in the Himalayas, where glaciers are beginning to retreat.
Renewable energy may be an adequate solution to the problem
Bloomberg New Energy Finance notes that China can avoid the potential problems of water scarcity, but doing so will require significant policy changes within the Central Government and gargantuan industrial efforts. Essentially, the Big Five will have to move many of their energy facilities out of water-scarce regions, which itself could lead to significant energy disruptions. Renewable energy may be a way to make the transition smoother, if China were inclined to actually move these energy facilities.