Govt Asks Ther­mal Power Plants to Cut Wa­ter Us­age

Pro­posed plants told to use 30% less wa­ter & ex­ist­ing ones to re­duce con­sump­tion by 10%

The Economic Times - - Companies - De­b­joy.Sengupta @times­group.com

Kolkata: Ther­mal power plants are wa­ter guz­zlers, con­sum­ing an av­er­age of 96,000 litres of wa­ter for ev­ery megawatt of power, and the gov­ern­ment wants to cut this down as it con­tem­plates the pos­si­bil­ity of ex­ces­sive dry sum­mers and dwin­dling wa­ter lev­els in rivers in com­ing years. The min­istry of en­vi­ron­ment (MoEF) has asked all pro­posed ther­mal power plants to use at least 30% less wa­ter than the ex­ist­ing ones, and told op­er­at­ing plants to re­duce their wa­ter us­age by at least 10%. Power plants draw wa­ter from rivers to cool equip­ment and con­tain fly ash, the burnt coal, and then dis­charge it back into the river.

“Wa­ter needs to be made avail­able to be used by power plants in the first place. If rivers run dry, plants will have to switch off gen­er­a­tion. Fur­ther with large num­ber of ther­mal power plants be­ing planned in clus­ters, the vol­ume of wa­ter avail­able in an area will start to com­pete with agri­cul­ture,” said a se­nior power sec­tor of­fi­cial who re­quested not to be named.

A Khu­rana, gen­eral sec­re­tary at As­so­ci­a­tion of Power Pro­duc­ers, said: “The min­istry’s norms, which will have to be com­plied by De­cem­ber 2017, will re­quire all plants to put up cool­ing tow­ers that would re­duce wa­ter con­sump­tion. How­ever, there is a cost in­volved, which would in­crease power tar­iff.”

Ac­cord­ing to Cen­tral Elec­tric­ity Au­thor­ity, ther­mal power plants are al­ready fac­ing dif­fi­cul­ties due to non-avail­abil­ity of wa­ter, par­tic­u­larly in coal-bear­ing states like Orissa, Jhark­hand and Ch­hat­tis­garh. Power sec­tor of­fi­cials said this year at NTPC’s Farakka ther­mal power sta­tion all units ex­cept one had to be shut down due to un­avail­abil­ity of wa­ter from Bha­gi­rathi river. Ther­mal power plants at Kar­nataka and Ma­ha­rash­tra also had to be shut due to short­age of wa­ter. This prob­lem is ex­pected to ag­gra­vate when more sites would be re­quired.

In states like Ra­jasthan, land is avail­able in plenty but there is scarcity of wa­ter and nat­u­rally drink­ing and ir­ri­ga­tion uses have got pri­or­ity over in­dus­trial uses. In such ar­eas with acute short­age of wa­ter, use of dry cool­ing sys­tem for con­denser cool­ing can be ex­plored.

Power plants draw wa­ter from rivers to cool equip­ment and con­tain fly ash, burnt coal & then dis­charge it back into the river

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