China’s Energy-Water Nexus – Assessment Of The Energy’s Sector Compliance With The “3 Red Lines” Industrial Water Policy

Y. Quin, E. Curmi, G. M. Kopec, J. M. Allwood, K. S. Richards

Increasing population and economic growth continue to drive China's demand for energy and water resources. The interaction of these resources is particularly important in China, where water resources are unevenly distributed, with limited availability in coal-rich regions. The “3 Red Lines” water policies were introduced in 2011; one of their aims is to reduce industrial water use, of which the energy sector is a part. This paper analyses current water withdrawals and consumption for all energy processes and assesses the sector's compliance with the industrial water policy under different scenarios, considering potential future policy and technological changes. The results show that future energy plans could conflict with the industrial water policy, but the amount of water used in the energy sector is highly dependant on technology choices, especially for power plant cooling. High electricity demand in the future is expected to be met mainly by coal and nuclear power, and planned inland development of nuclear power presents a new source of freshwater demand. Taking a holistic view of energy and water-for-energy enables the identification of co-benefits and trade-offs between energy and water policies that can facilitate the development of more compatible and sustainable energy and water plans.