RSS

Tag Archives: Water

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.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Green Business Ideas: Solar Panels can save water in the fields for farmers.


In India, Dehydrated Fruits & Vegetables is nothing new, as I found in the link attached and one can even do this at home in the Western nations too.  But the first thing you will hear a fruit and vegetable vendor shout at the top of his voice in the dusty Indian Bazaars is how fresh his produce are. And in the cities too, wives go early to the mall called “Big Bazzar” every Wednesday because fresh fruit and vegetables are stocked up that day. In fact, it is sold a little cheaper. A smart move, because more would be sold  thus reducing the storage space and rotting, both of which otherwise is a loss to the company.

So, we buy fresh fruits & vegetables and what is the first thing we do? We chop the vegetables with great love and affection and prepare that special dish the “famous chef” prepared on TV for us. Following the instructions to the letter, we stir-fry or boil the vegetable and let it – “simmer in low-heat, so as to cook in its own juice, and once all the water is dried up, stir it some more and then add salt to taste, and the add some water, let it come to boil and voila, the super dish is ready!

In one sentence, most Indian cooking involves dehydrating the vegetables in the process of cooking and then adding water to make the curry.

Dehydrating means, as you all know; removing water from the produce. So why do we need to buy fresh produce ? Which contain a lot of water, when almost always we will in the process of cooking evaporate it away?

Imagine, we are more than a Billion in population, who empirically speaking cook our vegetables to make a variety of dishes but with more or less the similar process of evaporating the water away!

WATER – the United Nation has a whole department of intelligent people, striving along with World Leaders in high – powered conferences in air-conditioned halls, as to how its scarcity can be tackled !

WATER – Droughts and its aftermath, recorded by those award winning media anchors, in its full gory detail – we watch in horror and pain, clutching our Mineral water bottle a little tighter and rationing our sip !

WATER – On which books have been written, which we rush to buy during a Champagne & Cheese cocktail, reading event by the authors, who warns in their books that water scarcity may cause World War -III  !

WATER – The lack of which kills a farmer with regular monotony in the Country I live while I follow all the other three above  mentioned water related actions!

It is time WE leave the water in the fields when we buy our Vegetables & Fruits.

What I fail to understand is when the Country and the World is already having a very mature understanding of Dehydrated food, why then this is not percolating down to the grass-roots! While I do understand that Sociology is not an easy science and removing barriers are time-consuming,I have yet to see CNN, BBC, NDTV, Times Now TV and host of other regional News channel cover this topic on their very popular talk shows – every month. Documentaries of course once in a while do come. But the responsibility lies more with the regional News channels.

I can only propose a Green Business Idea which may perhaps benefit all.

What is essential is to connect the dots between seemingly diverse fields and giving them a common approach.

1. The UN must during the Rio+20 propose to the member nations to devise a format wherein tax rebates would be given to all who could show that they have used at least 30% of their vegetable prepared with dehydrated  form of the same. This will be both an incentive to lower mental barriers and a process of mild cajoling and not draconian law, before such laws become necessary for some Countries in the future.

2. Popular Hollywood & Indian main-stream cinema must show use and consumption, to make it fashionable. It’s the rich, who throw food away. Stand in the alley of any big Hotel and you will be amazed at the amount wasted. While, I’m not here to advocate good eating habits to adults, who should know better; at-least lets not throw out the Water ! And by the way the freshest and juiciest of fruits & vegetables can be found in these Hotel kitchens.

The people at grass-root level are the biggest market for any idea. And just like the grass  they always like to move upwards. Seeing their “heroes” endorsing dehydrated food could lead a multitude to follow. ( the income tax rebate is the real reason, but I have a middle class mentality – I need an excuse which is stylish ! )

3. Traditional SUN dried fruits and vegetables are super, but let that be for the – oh ! so rich. Us common people would be happy if it is offered to us packed and SOLAR dried.

Yep, all those solar panel manufactures and business persons, its time your creative team bombards the TV boxes with advertisement on how Solar dried fruits and vegetables can save the World form a climate crisis. You could always share your expenses with the dehydrated food industry, which would surely benefit from such advertisement too. Add this and promote this to the many other ideas on solar I have written in this blog. But this idea makes me the most happy.

In fact the SUN would be providing -Water! No farmer, no child in India or Africa or anywhere else would need to die, due to thirst. No, forest would turn dry and the birds and bees would sing as the always did, before man-made actions parched their paradise.

Its time the Rain Forest nation gives out the call; a green business idea on the road to Rio+20 !

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,