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UK to face water shortages in medium- to long-term, study claims

March 20, 2014
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Britain's power grid may be seriously affected by water shortages in the future and parts of the country may lose electricity, a new study by a team of researchers from Newcastle University and Oxford University has warned.

Although Britain has recently been hit by flooding, long-term predictions suggest that over the coming decades there will be a combination of factors that could lead to the closure of power plants. On the one hand, climate change is likely to affect rainfall, so that drought will be an increasingly serious issue, while on the other, the rising population will boost water demand, putting water companies under great strain, the research noted.

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At present, British power plants are extremely dependent on water to produce electricity and a potential drought would affect power supplies. There might be power plants that are forced to reduce their output and some may even close down, the report noted. The researchers are urging policymakers to think about ways to reduce water consumption in electricity generation and explore other options that could help the UK retain its water security, commented Ed Byers of Newcastle University.

Co-author Professor Jim Hall added that the proposed changes in the UK's power generation mix could reduce the stress on water resources in the short term but projections show that demand for fresh water will go up again after 2030, particularly if carbon-capture and storage technologies become more widespread.
 

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