Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

China Accelerates Water Crisis With the Building of 16 Coal-Fired Power Plants

Energy
China Accelerates Water Crisis With the Building of 16 Coal-Fired Power Plants

Greenpeace East Asia

At least some 10 billion cubic meters of water—equivalent to about one-sixth of the annual total water volume of the Yellow River—will be consumed by 16 new coal power bases in China in 2015, triggering severe water crises in the country’s arid Northwest, a new Greenpeace report claims.

“The truth is, in this part of the country, even a single drop of water is too precious to be squandered. China is basically trading water rights of millions for energy,” says Li Yan, Greenpeace East Asia Climate and Energy campaign manager, also citing a statistic that says per capita water supply in China’s coal-rich areas is one-tenth of the national average. “It’s plain sad to see these coal power bases add another layer of meaning to their dirty nature."

Greenpeace commissioned the Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources under the Chinese Academy of Sciences to carry out the study, which calculates the least amount of water required by the total of 16 coal power bases that China plans to construct during the period of its 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015).

The conclusion: If finished as planned, these coal bases, while providing the majority of China’s coal output and more than one-third of coal power generation capacity in 2015, will consume at least 9.975 billion cubic meters of water. As a result, arid Northwestern provinces such as Inner Mongolia, Shaanxi, Shanxi and Ningxia, where 11 of these coal bases are situated, will see their water supply capacity severely challenged in three years time.

“Two years into the Five-Year Plan, it’s time to rethink the pros and cons of this westward coal expansion, and acknowledge the profoundly painful heritage they will leave: huge carbon emissions, horrible air pollution, and now, a grim future for vast arid areas," said Li.

About two-thirds of this huge amount of water will be used for water-intensive coal extraction, with the pumping out of ground water a prelude to extraction. As Greenpeace witnessed in the country’s biggest coal power bases, located in Eastern Inner Mongolia, such unchecked depletion of groundwater resources in the arid grassland has already accelerated grassland and wetland degradation, forcing herders to seek alternative livelihoods.

“For China, energy is vital, but water is life. While energy can and is already being generated via renewable sources, the depletion of water is irreversible,” Li said. “The Chinese government must find a way out of this dilemma and protect the one truly indispensable resource.”

Greenpeace strongly urges China’s authorities to immediately carry out a strict and robust water-demand assessment on China’s coal power bases and their overall environment impact on the respective regions. More importantly, it demands China's energy and development authorities take the lead in adjusting the development plans of China's coal energy bases, so that those projects which threaten the environment or water security are urgently revised to ensure sustainable socio-economic development.

Visit EcoWatch's WATER and COAL pages for more related news on this topic.

 

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists' "Doomsday Clock" — an estimate of how close humanity is to the apocalypse — remains at 100 seconds to zero for 2021. Eva Hambach / AFP / Getty Images

By Brett Wilkins

One hundred seconds to midnight. That's how close humanity is to the apocalypse, and it's as close as the world has ever been, according to Wednesday's annual announcement from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, a group that has been running its "Doomsday Clock" since the early years of the nuclear age in 1947.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

The 13th North Atlantic right whale calf with their mother off Wassaw Island, Georgia on Jan. 19, 2010. @GeorgiaWild, under NOAA permit #20556

North Atlantic right whales are in serious trouble, but there is hope. A total of 14 new calves of the extremely endangered species have been spotted this winter between Florida and North Carolina.

Read More Show Less

Trending

There are new lifestyle "medicines" that are free that doctors could be prescribing for all their patients. Marko Geber / Getty Images

By Yoram Vodovotz and Michael Parkinson

The majority of Americans are stressed, sleep-deprived and overweight and suffer from largely preventable lifestyle diseases such as heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes. Being overweight or obese contributes to the 50% of adults who suffer high blood pressure, 10% with diabetes and additional 35% with pre-diabetes. And the costs are unaffordable and growing. About 90% of the nearly $4 trillion Americans spend annually for health care in the U.S. is for chronic diseases and mental health conditions. But there are new lifestyle "medicines" that are free that doctors could be prescribing for all their patients.

Read More Show Less
Candles spell out, "Fight for 1 point 5" in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany on Dec. 11, 2020, in reference to 1.5°C of Earth's warming. The event was organized by the Fridays for Future climate movement. Sean Gallup / Getty Images

Taking an unconventional approach to conduct the largest-ever poll on climate change, the United Nations' Development Program and the University of Oxford surveyed 1.2 million people across 50 countries from October to December of 2020 through ads distributed in mobile gaming apps.

Read More Show Less
A monarch butterfly is perched next to an adult caterpillar on a milkweed plant, the only plant the monarch will lay eggs on and the caterpillar will eat. Cathy Keifer / Getty Images

By Tara Lohan

Fall used to be the time when millions of monarch butterflies in North America would journey upwards of 2,000 miles to warmer winter habitat.

Read More Show Less