Monday, March 25, 2013

China Coal Plants Drain Water Supply

Scientific American:
A report published today by Bloomberg New Energy Finance notes that the top five Chinese power generators -- China Huaneng Group, China Datang Corp., China Huadian Corp., China Guodian Corp. and China Power Investment Corp. -- have hundreds of gigawatts of coal-fired power plants in the country's dry north and that retrofitting them with water-efficient solutions could cost billions of dollars.
"Today, 85 percent of China's power generation capacity is located in water-scarce regions and 15 percent of this still relies on water-intensive, once-through cooling technologies," said Maxime Serrano Bardisa, one of the report's authors as well as Bloomberg New Energy Finance's water analyst.
At the same time, the nation is seeing less and less water. According to separate research by the China Environmental Forum, an initiative of the U.S.-based Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars' global sustainability and resilience program, China's total water reserves dropped 13 percent from 2000 to 2009, with the water shortage being particularly severe in the north.
The coal industry has played a big role in the shortage, the report says. Northern China has 20 percent of the country's freshwater supply, but its coal mining and coal-fired power generators are thirsty for water. Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimates that in 2010 alone, the two sectors combined withdrew 98 billion cubic meters of fresh water across the region -- or nearly 15 percent of China's total freshwater withdrawals in the year.
I'm glad I don't have to figure out how to clean up the mess the Chinese are making of their country.  It may keep the Communist party in power a while, but they will reap the whirlwind in the not too distant future.  The Atlantic features pictures of the pollution of China's water here.

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