Tag Archives: agricultural

Making electricity uses up the most water!

The power sector has a large impact on the amount of water consumed.

ElectricityCertain processes in coal power plants require large amounts of water. In India, most of these power plants are installed in coastal areas. These plants draw ocean water, desalinate it and bring it to the required quality of water for the turbines and then re-use it.  The wastewater that exits the plant is supposed to be taken far into the ocean, (around 2km from the edge and very deep), so that the water can mix in easily over a period of time. Unless we manage the exit water very carefully, it can result in extensive pollution and have a detrimental impact on marine life.

When a large coal power plant or a nuclear power plant is set up, a prerequisite is providing a large amount of water round the clock, year after year. This lessens the availability of natural water resources to those who are dependent on it. Governments and engineers don’t warn us that if human beings start using large quantities of water, the other species of the animal kingdom that are dependent on water will be deprived of it. There is a slew of both nuclear and coal power plants coming up, with no protest on this threat that is real.

Current scenario in the Power sector

About 700,000 MW of new power project proposals are in various stages of application at the Ministry of Environment.  Prayas, an organization working on initiatives in Energy, has calculated that the total amount of additional water required for these new projects, if they are created, can provide fresh water for around 150 million Indians and can meet 9-10% of agricultural requirements or about 25 million tonnes of food grains annually in India. India is already water stressed. So the question is:Should we continue building these large power plants?Or should we look for alternatives to meet these energy needs?

The InstalledHow do we first understand the ‘demand for electricity’ that is projected by the Government?These are based on date from the past, estimates of the deficits of the present and extrapolations into the future.How legitimate are these projections? Can decisions involving money at a million dollars to a mere MW and with incalculable damage that each such MW wreaks as havoc ecologically, be permitted to be made without public consultation? Can the brutality of closed-door decision-making inside government corridors be continued any more?  The needs for a common man are basically for lighting or probably charging his cell phone, or for a mixer/ grinder in the kitchen. There is no legislation to stop homes in Gurgaon that are now centrally air-conditioned. Night-time sports, 24-hour shopping malls … can we continue the insanity?

The GovernmentIndia’s efficiency is one of the worst in the power sector with respect to international practices. Power Ministry and Planning Commission data show that if India’s efficiency was maintained at the power sector’s international best practice level, it can give virtually about 35-40% more power within the existing infrastructure.

There is really no shortage of power at the moment. By taking the efficiency to the international best practice level, you will indirectly reduce the additional demand for electricity and in turn reduce the number of power plants required.

What are the alternatives currently available?

Sunlight is one of the best sources of renewable energy available. If sunlight is tapped in the most effective way, it will not require any water. The water footprint of technologies such as biomass and wind energy is minimal. And India being a tropical country, there is a huge potential.

What is the solution?

First, we need the right to information on how we can manage our requirement of energy without having an impact on these natural resources. We urgently need to transform our thinking. Efficiency improvement, energy conservation and demand-side management are the three major areas that need focus.

More professional groups should be involved in the energy movement.Authorities and government officials and policy makers usually detest any such public engagement and discussion. And individuals would not have the perseverance without the support of groups aligned and committed. How can organizations rally behind such a struggle to keep the balance between natural resources and energy footprint?

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IN THE NAME OF DEVELOPMENT

bangalore-city-viewMany real estate projects have come up on and off Sarjapur Road. The area is touted to be the emerging hub of city’s urbanization. A number of development projects are being carried out under the hood of Sarjapur Gram Panchayats and Bangalore Metropolitan Rural Development Authority (BRDMA).

There’s a deal of ballyhoo from these developers on their ‘mega’ size, all the amenities they offer to lure the gullible home-buyer. The truth is not so beautiful. The authorities are looking the other way.  Quietly there’s damage wrought on the rural communities to the city’s fringe.

Acres of agricultural and arable land have been acquired by builder-majors to produce high rise slums that fuel the middle class dream of a home and the small-time investor’s desire to speculate.

A drive down that road will reveal an ugly reality — vast barren fields with concrete dumped. Hardly any patch of green remains. A series of commercial establishments have sprung up.

People have bought homes trusting builders but have forgotten to think of the environmental disaster in the name of development – depleted ground water, acres of dry land, the mushrooming of shanties. Lands lie bare with no cultivation with farmers waiting for the right price.

The question is: who should take the call, the builders or the residents? The solution is surprisingly easy and simple. There has to be a midway that both parties can tread on.

Homes should now be self sufficient and independent of natural resource exploitation. Although very few in number, there are builders like BCIL ZED who have been sensitive to the issue of environmental degradation and have created homes that are eco-friendly.

A green home is one which is free from water resources from the city, has its own power generation capability and a fully developed waste management system that ensures zero export of any type of waste. ​

Rainwater harvesting can reduce water dependency from city supply by up to 15-20 or about 59-60 days in a year. Recycling of grey water from kitchen and washing can be used for landscaping, car wash, and flush tanks. This decreases water consumption by a massive 70%.

Solar powered electrical systems are also picking up with more and more homes being retrofitted with them. A small STP can reduce the waste load on municipal authorities to a major extent.

Builders like ZED, BCIL have their own solar and wind solutions for power generation. They have developed household appliances that consume less power than conventional electronic items. A range of forest free furniture is used in all their homes to ensure no forests are being cut.

Just stirring people’s conscience to build a green home is not enough.

Buyers, residents and prospective buyers must invest in initiatives that don’t just aim at settling a community but developing an ecosystem on the whole. Going energy efficient doesn’t cost much. If you could afford a small car, you can afford a lot of these little things that, in the long run, offer returns that are attractive.

Reduction in your power bills, water bills and smarter air-conditioning with clean air and healthy living environment are obvious dividends. Buyers and builders must drive the bigger aim of a sustainable growth for the city.

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