by China Water Risk 13 August, 2014
Water makes a power play this month as China tightens policies and regulations that affect the coal & coal-related industries. We explore how water drives coal reform as State Council moves to protect its No. 1 fuel source against water scarcity. For better air and less smog, China is also moving to become less reliant on coal-fired power generation which sees its share of energy mix fall to 43% by 2050 in favour of more hydro, nuclear, gas, wind & solar. All good for air and climate change but not necessarily good for water or neighbouring countries. We look into the inevitable rise of geopolitical tension with the planned hydropower expansion of over 120GW between 2015-2050 on transboundary rivers. Can we avoid sparking hydro wars? Wen Bo, policy advisor for the National Geographic Society, provides a review on China’s inland nuclear power expansion in water stressed regions whilst Monika Freyman from Ceres’ water programme shares lessons learnt from the US shale gas boom. However, as China plans to add 1.8TW between 2015 and 2050, changing the energy mix is not enough, water savings (be it through energy savings or direct savings) are also necessary. Robert Brears, associate fellow at the Free University of Berlin shares price & non-price strategies available to urban water managers in China and Carlos Vazquez, project manager of “Mas Agua Para Todos” tells us how Cuba is working to alleviate water scarcity to help sustain its people & economy. It’s not just China that is concerned, “water & power” is the theme of the upcoming World Water Week in Stockholm where China Water Risk will be co-convening a seminar on coal-fired power & water as well as delivering a keynote at the Stockholm Water Prize Seminar.Water is important to power. Balancing fuel mix and water scarcity in China does not just ensure its water & energy security but regional stability. It’s time for Asia to get involved in this power play. With shared glacial watersheds in the Himalayas shrinking, there is much more at stake here than just power and transboundary water disputes.
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