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Balancing development of major coal bases with available water resources in China through 2020

Shang, Yizi, Lu, Shibao, Li, Xiaofei, Hei, Pengfei, Lei, Xiaohui, Gong, Jiaguo, Liu, Jiahong, Zhai, Jiaqi, Wang, Hao
Applied energy 2017 v.194 pp. 735-750
chemistry, coal, economic development, energy, energy industry, power generation, washing, water conservation, water supply, China, Mongolia
In order to ensure economic development, China plans to build fourteen large-scale coal bases during the period of the 13th Five-Year Plan (2015–2020). Coal production and washing, coal-fired power generation, and coal chemistry are the major developing industries in relation to the coal bases. In this study, we predict that by 2020, the newly increased water demand of these three industries will reach 3.8billionm³. Even if water saving measures are reinforced, the newly increased water demand will still be 2.3billionm³. Water resources will become the weak link, restricting the energy industry development of coal bases in areas such as Xinjiang, Ordos, Northern Shaanxi, and Huanglong. In addition, according to current plans, the scale of development for coal bases in water-deficient areas such as Northern Shaanxi, Huanglong, Shendong, Eastern Mongolia, Eastern Ningxia, and Xinjiang is expected to increase substantially. This will drive increased water demand, intensifying competition for water among different industries and regions in the context of a limited capability to guarantee regional water resources. Severe water resources challenge China’s energy development strategies is foreseeable, and if we are to guarantee the water supply required by these coal bases, it is necessary to begin expanding supply and controlling demand now.