Tag Archives: McKinsey & Company

World Water Day – Do you know how much water a light bulb consumes?

By 2030, researchers estimate that the disparity between national water demand and reliable water supply will be nearly 50%. Currently, India has a total water demand of around 700 billion cubic metres, of which almost 85% is used for producing food. In another 17 years, India will have only half the water it needs, thanks to global warming and population explosion. On the World Water Day on March 22, the need to focus attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating sustainable management of freshwater resources will be of pivotal importance. If we consider even the most cost-effective solution to reduce water scarcity, it will require an annual spend of nearly Rs35,000 crore by 2030, according to ‘Charting our water future: Economic frameworks to inform decision-making’, a report by global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company.The report stated that India would require investments to the tune of Rs8 lakh crore over the next 20 years to provide basic infrastructure services like water, waste water and solid waste management. In India, just about 64% of urban population is covered by individual water connections compared to 91% in China, 86% in South Africa and 80% in Brazil. Allocation of Rs15,260 crore has been made in the Budget towards clean drinking water and sanitation as against revised estimates of Rs13,000 crore. A DNA News report by Dilnaz Boga.

While reading this under my study light, I looked up and started thinking – how much water does my light drink? I found some interesting answer under Saving Electricity, on water consumption to produce electricity (more information can be found in EIA page ). While I would not be able to verify the facts noted as under, even believing them to be accurate to some extent, presents a very sombre scenario.

Water Consumption by different types of Power Stations to produce electricity

  • Solar plant with dry cooling:  80 gallons per  megawatt-hour
  • Nuclear plants (with closed-loop cooling):  700-1100 gallons per megawatt-hour
  • Nuclear plants (with open-loop cooling):  25,000-60,000 gallons per megawatt-hour
  • Coal-fired plants (closed-loop):  500-600 gallons per megawatt-hour
  • Coal-fired plants (open-loop):  20,000-50,000 gallons per megawatt-hour
  • Biomass (crops grown for the purpose of fuel):  40,000 to 100,000 gallons per megawatt-hour
  • Natural gas fracking:  2-10 million gallons per well

This information required some chilled soft-drink and potato chips and lowering the temperature of the A/c. After all I have attended so many conferences on climate change, I have by now got used to the habit of consuming good food & drinks in luxury. How else can one solve the pressing issues of water scarcity and its related fall-outs like war and riots? Hunger and malnutrition caused due to drought and famine too requires a chilled pineapple juice in a PET bottle to be addressed properly.

Now let’s do some simple maths – 1 gallon = 3.78 litres (US- liter). As on July 31, 2010, and as per the Central Electricity Authority the total installed capacity of Coal or Lignite based power plants in India are 87093.38 MW.

So the water required to produce this electricity  87093.38 x 2268 liters = 19,75,27,786 litres.(assuming all are closed loop consuming  600 gallons/MW) Presently we have around 111 Thermal power plants which are coal/lignite based.

While it can be argued that water is recycled most of the time. That the coal, nuclear, Bio-mass, Natural gas fracking power plants  require water can not be denied. And it is impossible to stop the leakages. Some of it will have to escape, thus requiring continuous replenishment. Even Solar thermal requires water, though it can be called a saint in comparison to the others.

Thus a huge amount of water is not reaching the fields of a drought hit farm, or recharging the wells to quench the thirst. So with every drop of electricity produced we are removing vast amounts of water from the natural water cycle. This must be clearly understood.

India has an installed power generation capacity of 2,10,950 megawatts of electricity, according to government figures. And as per various estimates, India’s power generation meets only 90% of total demand.

TableAs the demand for electricity for a resurgent India is bound to increase, the thermal power plants have to increase their capacity or new plants would be needed to be set up. Same would be the case for Nuclear, Natural Gas, Bio-mass and Natural Gas Fracking.

With the table given, it is easy to the calculate how much water is required to produce electricity, which most of us waste. The common person needs to understand that Energy & Water are interlinked. Just as it is inside the body of a human. Without water, one has to die. Similarly without water we shall have no electricity. Until Renewable Energy, especially Solar PV and Wind mature to cover the demand supply gap. But this is not happening any time soon.

It is a choice in front of the intelligent animal named “human” to decide which is more important. To quench its thirst or thirst for more power to light up the ugly, unsustainable city which it habitats. The situation soon would be a choice of one or the other, unless we change the way we live. Sustainable design and living is no more an option but a necessity.

In my opinion, to celebrate World Water Day, municipalities all over the World  should announce 1 day of no water supply. This would make each and every citizen sit up and take notice of the school children walking down the streets holding placards on how to conserve water. The Police should arrest water thieves, a common thing in India & many other Asian countries and parade them in front of the media before putting them in jail. It is only then the seriousness of the problem be understood by the people. If at all.

For as long as city dwellers get their share of fresh-food and water supply, they care a damn from whose mouth it has been snatched. Thus, we will find people continue to throng so-called Holy men doing the unholy act of wasting water in cities of states which are in grip of severe drought.It is the mindset of the people which needs to be changed with sustained practical approach towards sustainable practice.

And one such idea could be by educating the people in a more grass-roots approach. We all need a home to live. And most in India aspire to own a home.

This could start with the building industry. The building industry consumes 40% of the world’s energy needs and 60% of all waste stems from it.

The Indian Builders Association has been seeking the Infrastructure status from the Government for a very long time. The Government could moot a law that in exchange of giving into that demand, the top management of all big and small builder and related stake-holder companies must go for certified & comprehensive Green Building training.

India practices two wonderful Energy Efficient Building design certification program through IGBC & GRIHA. Since its inception in 2001 IGBC, which practices the Indian version of LEED has 1,972 registered buildings and 149 projects are with GRIHA which opened in 2007. (source: Click here).

It is too small a number to effect a reverse change in the Global Warming and Water & Energy conservation. But if developers are made to attend Orientation Workshops as is organised by Centre for Science and Environment along with those by TERI -GRIHA and CII-IGBC. And without whose valid certificate one would not be given the licence to build, we may still be able to make the desired change we want in our effort to conserve Water and Energy.

This would automatically percolate to the public, the home/office buyers who would be bombarded by the green information in every brochure the developers distribute. And when the public starts to use the facilities and notice the difference it makes to their lives, the mission would have achieved its target.

And for once I believe this not to be a wishful thinking but a doable project. All that is needed is support from those who can influence the decisions of Governments.


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The Gen Next will demand a Green Building

Awareness on Climate change is profound in Urban Indian schools. This I found when, invited by the district Rotary president of the area I live in Mumbai, I gave a lecture on Green Buildings in a school & a law college. During the short question and answer session, I was amazed at the grasp and depth of understanding many possessed about ” Global warming”. It was encouraging.

In my earlier article I had shown that by simply recycling steel jotter pens one can Reduce the impact of mining for iron-ore. ( Green Business Ideas –  CDM methods for Steel Production ) What if we can inculcate the idea of Reduce – Recycle – Reuse to the school children across all schools. Especially in the Urban  areas ? According to the UNICEF data the total number of school children in India were 113.8 million in 2000-01; Which in the last ten years has increased. Say if we just take into account 50% of these schools which would be imparting basic knowledge of Global Warming, we have a huge youth population which by the year 2025 be the next “consumer” of all product and produce the market has to offer.

The World business better gear up for all things green. It is the only alternative they would have especially in the Urban centers of India. Further India along with China are predicted to grow phenomenally, and growth by default means high carbon growth. Actually if you read an article by atradersrant – It is not the CO2, it is the waste heat that goes with every kiloWatt of electricity produced, which is the real cause of global warming. This actually helps rest the climate skeptic arguments that CO2, being a natural gas can not harm Earth, but at the same time proves that because we have not yet perfected the art of energy manufacturing and consumption, the waste heat is in fact coming from inefficient burning of fossil fuel – thus carbon.

Global Warming 1/2

Global Warming 1/2 (Photo credit: lamazone)

An article stated – “Asia has been responsible for over two-thirds of the growth in global energy demand over the past two decades. As, above all, China and India race towards prosperity, they will burn coal in huge volumes. The resulting emissions of carbon dioxide will be among the biggest hurdles in the way of a global agreement on limiting climate change …Where China leads, India lumbers behind, also burning an awful lot of coal, and hungry for more electric power. Some 70% of its electricity comes from coal. The national grid has expanded hugely in recent years. But it still leaves about 300m people without a connection. In projections of increased energy demand over the next 25 years, India is second only to China…Like China, it is ploughing resources into nuclear power, oil-and-gas exploration and imports, and renewable energy. Like China, too, however, India finds coal the obvious option. It is something it has plenty of—already the world’s third-largest producer, it has the world’s fifth-biggest coal reserves. But it cannot exploit them fast enough to meet demand. In fact, output has not increased for two years. Coal India, the state monopoly, blames the difficulty of securing mining permits. So India may soon become the world’s biggest coal importer.On current trends, as estimated by McKinsey, India’s carbon emissions will increase by about two-and-a-half times by 2030, by which time its power industry alone will account for about one-tenth of the total rise in global emissions. Like China’s government, India’s points out that, per head, its people will still be producing far less carbon dioxide than Americans or Australians (though China is rapidly catching up with some European countries in pollution per person). And, in India’s case, total emissions (at 5 billion–6.5 billion tonnes) will remain well below China’s. “

Well below China does not mean that we shall be having a pollution free Country. With health -care still out of reach of millions and cultural propensity of not adhering to any civic sense, the massive pollution would only spell disaster for the country if not arrested. Alternative energy sources and energy efficiency  for continued development is the need of the hour. If we do what the article predicts the intense global pressure the UNFCCC members would be bearing upon us, would make trade difficult. And it is the youth of today who would face the hardships of trade embargo, which is sure to follow as man-made related Climate change problems rise.

Yes, while everyone knows that it is the Developed Nations which have created this mess,it does not give sanction to any other Nation to follow the foolish path of high carbon development model.

So coming back to the point, India must follow the full course it has set out under NAPCC and not get derailed by “smart economics” enshrined in crony capitalism. It is a superb Green Business Idea and the coming generation of young Indians will want India to follow this path as it would surely make our Nation First among equals. And it is logical, because the youths are more aware of the problems they would be facing – In 2010, climate-related extreme events and disasters affected some 300 million people, most often in countries which have little capacity to cope.

Young India is aware of this and  the disaster of Fukushima brought home by the TV has left an impression even on the minds of Rural India. Moreover the youth today are connected by social media and many have seen the video which shows how disaster has struck USA in the past year, while this video  was suggested by a young student to me, it is a bit dramatic but overall it has captured some of the worst disasters, which people around the World have faced in 2011. These events coupled with the increased awareness of Climate change, has been shifting the dynamics of thinking. Climate Resilient cities which the UN proposes becomes more and more acceptable idea, then it would have been 25 years ago. And to those youths on whose shoulders the future of this Nation would eventually rest, and are still skeptic about the effect of Humans activities on Climate , below  is a thought to ponder upon –

While it is very common, World over for young people to say ” I can’t live without my – car; dog; cell phone, shoe or fancy clothes etcetera. An Oxfam report suggested that by 2030, climate change could push food prices up by 50-90 percent more than they would otherwise be expected to rise. And then many would just seriously not be able to live. Because if there is one thing Human’s can’t live without – its food & water. It is the way all living things are, all need sustenance. So its time the “intelligent living beings” we like to call ourselves – learn about Sustainable living. And what could be better than “the smarter generation” which youths like to call themselves leading the way!


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