How Water Impacted India’s Power System
- An abnormally weak monsoon in India’s agricultural states, with rainfall down 18 percent from normal, hit farmers first . Without enough rain to adequately water their crops, Indian farmers turned to pumping groundwater for irrigation, using electric pumps. This added draw on the electricity supply increased pressure on the already strained power grid.
- Conventional power plants are just as dependent on water as hydroelectric plants. Thermal power plants (such as fossil fuel and nuclear plants) need water to keep their equipment cool and functioning. A lack of water for cooling has threatened to force some of India’s nuclear power facilities to shut down.
- Even as much of India struggles with lack of rain, in some places, too much water is driving power problems. Two hydropower plants in Himachal Pradesh—including the country’s largest at 1,500 megawatts—were forced to shut down last week due to high silt levels in the Sutlej river. Silt, washed into the river by heavy rains, can seriously damage hydroelectric facilities and must be cleared before power production can resume.