The real effect was compounded by the fact that most of these shutdown incidents happened from March through September. In these months—if the monsoon is weak or delayed, as it was in 2016— most of India is dry and hot, and the demand for electricity is high. Besides what’s needed for industry and domestic purposes, electricity is also needed to irrigate agriculture. In other words, electricity generation was the most hampered when people needed it the most. India is making great strides to aggressively expand its renewable energy capacity. But the country’s power sector remains highly reliant on thermoelectric plants, with high demand for water for cooling. That means that droughts, like the one caused last year by weak monsoons, can shut off the power, hampering the economy and potentially endangering lives.To understand the impact and extent of these shutdowns in the thermal power sector, we compiled and analyzed over 1,400 Daily Outage Reports filed with India’s Central Electricity Authority between 2013 and 2016. We found that water shortage related shutdowns in 2016 cost India roughly 14 terawatt-hours (TWh) of thermal electricity generation, enough to power India’s neighbor Sri Lanka for an entire year.Terawatt-hours Lost Due to Water ShortagesOur analysis found that, in 2016, 18 thermal power plants in India had shutdowns caused by water shortages, ranging from days to months. Had these 18 plants had access to water during the shutdowns, they would have generated 14 TWh of electricity, about one percent of India’s annual consumption. During the 4 years from 2013 through 2016, India’s thermal power sector lost more than 30 TWh of potential electricity due to water shortages. The 18 plants were affected in different ways. Some lost a large share of capacity for a short period. Others lost a small share of capacity for a long period.Shutdowns Can Last Hundreds of DaysThe Parli Thermal Power Station in Maharashtra with a capacity of 1380 MW experienced the worst of both worlds, losing a very large share of capaicity for a very long time. This coal-fired power plant was entirely shut down for 89 days in 2016. In addition, it was largely paralyzed for 196 days, which cost Parli about eight gigawatt-hours in potential electricity generation, and a potential $455 million in lost revenue, based on its Rate of Sale of Power disclosed by CEA. Maharashtra State Power Generation Co. Ltd., who owns Parli and a few other plants, reported FY16 revenue from sales of power of 192.9 billion Rupees (about $3.1 billion), so the lost generation represented a substantial percentage of total revenues. Parli has a long history of having to shut down because of its inadequate water supply. Between 2013 and 2016, the plant only generated an average of 38 percent of its capacity. During this time period, it was shut down entirely for 506 days purely because of water shortages. Vulnerability to Drought Another Reason to Shift From ThermalIndia’s main modes of energy generation – thermal power plants and hydroelectric plants—are both threatened by water availability. This analysis shows that scarce water resources are posing a real financial threat to India’s thermal power sector and its investors, as well as risks to India’s electricity generation. Competitions over water and water-induced power outages have the potential to create social tensions between power producers, governments and consumers.Climate change is likely to increase the frequency and intensity of droughts, and socio-economic development will intensify local water competition. In the coming decades, we expect more water shortage-induced power shutdowns, unless steps are taken to reduce these risks.Existing thermal power plants could reduce water risk by adopting less water-dependent cooling technologies, such as dry cooling. Companies, governments, and communities would all benefit from the advancing the government’s push for more renewable energy, since solar PV and wind do not require water for cooling and are much less vulnerable to droughts. In fact, solar and wind energy at their highest levels of production during the dry, hot summer months – at the same time that thermal plants are most at-risk.To further assess thermal power plants’ vulnerability to droughts and water scarcity in India, detailed plant level water withdrawal and consumption data are needed. WRI is developing a methodology to estimate water withdrawal and consumption for thermal power plants using satellite imagery for data scarce regions. We are testing this methodology in India to develop a water usage database for the country’s thermal power plants, and provide a comprehensive risk assessment capacity that can support better planning for India’s water-stressed power sector. As demand for energy grows and climate change impacts water amounts and timing, this kind of analysis will become vital for all countries.This post is the first episode of WRI’s blog series, India’s Water-Energy Nexus. This series maps the impacts of growing water stress on India’s thermal power utilities, and explores the implications of water usage, as well as opportunities in water savings from renewable energy, for the future of India’s power sector.
Medicaid expansion has been available to Alaskans for over a month, and 93 people in the capital city have enrolled. Two-hundred and sixty-three in all of Southeast. It’s providing coverage for the uninsured. But it’s also offering increased care for those who qualify with Indian Health Service.Download AudioFor one Juneau man, that means having options to treat alcohol addiction.James Refuerzo and his family outside their home. (Photo by Elizabeth Jenkins/KTOO)James Refuerzo says he fell on hard times when he was in his 20s, and he’s still paying for it now. Back then, he didn’t think he had a drinking problem.“Maybe one time I’d overdo it. Then all a’sudden I find myself doing something I totally wouldn’t be doing if I was sober,” he said. “With my addiction sometimes I’d drink eight or 10 beers and make a dumb decision and say, ‘Hey I think I can drive.”After his third DUI, he was locked up at Lemon Creek Correctional Center. Refuerzo is the father of three small kids. He spent two years away serving his sentence and had a revelation.“Realizing, hey, this has got to stop. ‘Cause the next time I get in trouble, I’m automatically going to be in jail for five years,” Refuerzo said. “And I don’t want to do that and with my kids, something had to change and that’s when I went to Rainforest.”He knew SEARHC was another option. That’s the tribal health care organization serving Alaska Natives in Southeast. Refuerzo is Tlingit from the Wooshkeetaan Clan. So most of his medical needs are covered. But Juneau SEARHC only offers limited outpatient care for substance abuse treatment.“It’s tough just to ask for help but then when you ask for it and to be told to wait, it’s a little bit tougher.”At Rainforest Recovery Center, he says he was able to fill out a form and come back that same day. The center has a sliding-scale payment policy. There’s an overnight treatment program. Refuerzo opted to do outpatient. And he says things got better. He was meeting with a counselor regularly and talking about his problems.“When I got my job and everything I didn’t qualify for the sliding scale and I was paying 100 percent,” he said.Refuerzo only works part-time and owes Rainforest over $1,300.“It’s gone to collections now. I just got another letter saying this one is going to go to collections, too. It’s like I got to take care of it later on in life when I start making more money and decide to start fixing my credit,” he said.So he stopped going Rainforest. Then he heard he qualified for Medicaid, which pays for treatment.Bettyann Boyd, Refuerzo’s girlfriend, helped him sign up. She works at SEARHC and has been covered by Indian Health Service and Medicaid for a long as she can remember. Medicaid covers travel expenses for medical reasons and specialized care. Giving her family more opportunities.“Just the choice, the choice to have a different option to go to a private clinic, a private dental. If you’re not feeling comfortable with the IHS services,” Boyd said.And she’s glad those choices could extend to her boyfriend, Refuerzo. She’s proud of the work he’s done on himself. She’s going to counseling, too.“We’re doing really good and we been doing really good. Who knew we’d be able to live in this trailer and have a trailer and own it,” she said. “Everything just keeps going up higher and higher.”Refuerzo hasn’t heard back yet if he’s been approved for Medicaid. Some people who’ve signed up have had to wait. But after Nov. 1 new applicants will get an instant response from the Health Care Exchange that could speed up the process.When his enrollment card does come, Refuerzo says it’ll feel good to slip it in his wallet.“For once I’ll feel like I’ve got something in my life that means something material wise. … I’ve never carried an insurance card before. And each time I’ve been asked, I’ve never had insurance number in my life,” he said. “And it’s going to be nice knowing that I got Medicaid and I’m not just stuck seeing one person because that’s the only person I can see. I can seek out other opinions, other options.”He’s four months sober. But he says it’ll be nice to know he can get help when he needs it.