Sustainable Thermal Power Plant Water Management: Overcoming Water Stress Challenges

thermal power plant water management

The World Resource Institute (WRI) recently found that 47% of the world’s thermal power plant capacity is located in water-stressed regions. That’s highly problematic because thermal energy significantly depends on water for cooling and electricity. This requires efficient thermal power plant water management. 

If you manage a thermal power plant or consult those who do, you must always remember that without a consistent, reliable water source, your operation will experience power disruptions, blanketing cities in darkness instead of light. Depending on your thermal power plant’s location, you may already be encountering this issue or realizing this challenge is no longer on the distant horizon.

The Top Water-Stressed Regions

Multiple regions continue to make headlines because of their water scarcity challenges. Some of the top areas facing issues with water availability include the ones below.

1. India

The WRI reports that from 2013 to 2016, 14 of India’s 20 largest thermal power plants shut down at least once because of water shortages. The cost of those shortages was US$1.4 billion, and many areas in India faced power outages because of the power plants’ water scarcity challenges. These outages are expected to worsen in the future. The WRI suggests that 40% of India’s thermal power plants are in water-stressed areas, but experts believe that number will hit 70% by 2030 because of climate change and other sectors’ growing demand for water.

2. American Southwest

The American Southwest is experiencing a decades-long drought that’s putting a significant strain on energy generation. In fact, two of the mightiest reservoirs in the American West responsible for delivering water and electricity to millions could reach “dead pool status” because of the over consumption of water and climate change. These two reservoirs are Lake Mead and Lake Powell, which are at one of their lowest levels.

Additionally, triple-digit heat waves are becoming routine in states such as Nevada and Arizona, while wildfires persist in California, scorching forests and grasslands. These issues are contributing to water insecurity throughout the southwest, and hot and dry conditions are so bad that an ecosystems expert at the U.N. Environment Programme says they refer to it as “aridification,” which is a new, very dry normal.

3. Africa

According to the U.N’s Global Water Security 2023 Assessment, Africa’s entire population is facing water insecurity. The report also suggests that 13 countries, including Ethiopia, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Madagascar, and Niger, are critically water insecure.

Two primary drivers of water scarcity in Africa are climate change and over exploitation. Regarding the latter, a 2018 report by the Institute for Security Studies indicates that most of South Africa’s rivers are over exploited, with only a third of the country’s primary rivers remaining in good condition.

4. Europe

In 2022, Europe experienced historic droughts that decreased water levels in rivers and drained reservoirs; however, the droughts were only pieces of a much larger puzzle. A recent study showcasing satellite data suggests that Europe has been facing a severe drought since 2018, and rising temperatures aren’t helping the continent overcome its water scarcity challenges.

A critical reservoir that’s responsible for providing water to millions of people in Catalonia is decreasing. Several villages in France are clashing because they can’t provide residents with tap water. And the largest river in Italy is dwindling.

Optimized Solutions for Thermal Power Power Plant Water Management

If a thermal power plant is in India, the American Southwest, Africa, or Europe, it’s more susceptible to experiencing the woes of water scarcity. A plant needs large volumes of water to function successfully, and the numbers prove it. In the U.S., thermo electric power plants account for 40% of the freshwater withdrawn annually. In Europe, that number is slightly higher, coming in at 43% every year. With thermal power plants providing around 80% of electricity in the world, it makes sense that significant volumes of water are necessary.

But in an age where water insecurity is plaguing many regions, freshwater sources are dwindling. That means it’s time for effective thermal power plant water management to find innovative ways to consistently secure the water that is needed.

The best solution? Using different water sources.

Instead of relying on freshwater, operators and managers can use other water sources to address their thermal power plants’ needs, but they must have an advanced water treatment process for the flocculation and clarification of their new water source. The GWT Zeoturb Bio-Organic Liquid Flocculant is a unique sustainable solution that plant operators and managers can use if they start utilizing other water sources or even unconventional water sources. Not only is this solution environmentally safe, but it’s also designed to treat potable water, process water, storm water, and wastewater.

Additionally, the GWT Zeoturb Bio-Organic Liquid Flocculant removes inorganic and organic particles like algae, sediment, silt, dyes, and heavy metals. And it does not introduce additional chemicals, metals, or salts into the water system. That means the new water source plant operators and managers use will not only be treated but also free from toxins that usually appear during water treatment processes.

Even better, using a disinfectant along with GWT Zeoturb Bio-Organic Liquid Flocculant can help further enhance the water quality of a water source. For example, Genesis Water Technologies’ Genclean Disinfect is an advanced oxidation liquid water treatment solution that’s designed to disinfect industrial and commercial cooling towers. It’s less corrosive than ozone and chlorine and quickly inactivates existing biofilm and bacteria.

With Genclean Disinfect and the GWT Zeoturb Bio-Organic Liquid Flocculant, a thermal power plant can stop relying on scarce water resources and start utilizing unconventional sources to continue operating like normal. A good water treatment solution and disinfectant will ensure the water that operators and managers use is just as clean as the freshwater their plant usually runs on, giving them more opportunities to utilize different water sources to overcome water-stress challenges.

To learn more about the GWT Zeroturb Bio-Organic Liquid Flocculant and Genclean Disinfect, reach out to our water and wastewater experts at Genesis Water Technologies. You can call us at +1 877 267 3699 or email us at