Caution Tough Choices Ahead
by China Water Risk 15 April, 2015
This month we tackle tough choices ahead in power expansion. There are no one-size-fits all solutions for China in the water-energy-climate nexus. Water supply solutions such as desalination and water diversion are power intensive while climate solutions like carbon capture and storage require more water. At the same time, China is still hungry for power but has limited water resources. Can China manage this? Many Chinese experts like Professor Xie Kechang, Vice President of the Chinese Academy of Engineering believe that China is not yet ready to move away from coal. Indeed, State Council’s 4.2 billion tonne coal consumption cap indicates an additional consumption of +690 million tonnes by 2020. More coal means more carbon emissions and accelerated glacier melt but more hydropower could mean tapping of China’s transboundary rivers to the ire of it’s downstream neighbours. Meanwhile, China’s inland nuclear power expansion plans in densely populated river basins face scrutiny over water contamination fears. Non-reliant water power such as wind and solar could provide relief but not all solar tech is water-friendly. Moreover, aggressive wind power expansion could intensify little talked about hidden water risks in rare earth mining. We explore all the above and more in our newly published report “TOWARDS A WATER & ENERGY SECURE CHINA – Tough choices ahead in power expansion with limited water resources”. Check out some key insights from the report in the articles below.
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