Dr. Vaibhav Chaturvedi was invited to speak at the technical panel session on 'Water-Energy Nexus: Bridging the Gap' during a two day conference on the nexus issue organized by TERI. Dr. Chaturvedi proposed and discussed an analytical framework for better understanding the issue of food-water-energy-climate nexus research in India. The framework emphasizes quantified relationship between food, water, energy and climate sectors. The objective of such a framework will be to understand key points of vulnerability, how shocks in one part of the system can propagate to other parts, and what kind of policy packages need to be designed to address the nexus issue. After presenting the analytical framework, Vaibhav highlighted that the key driver for the discussion of energy-water nexus for India is the fact that India is a water stressed nation, and limited development of surface water sources has lead to a huge pressure on India's groundwater resources.
The presentation then discussed three key themes of the energy water research landscape for India. The first theme was irrigation-energy nexus. Dr. Chaturvedi highlighted that this is an area in which researchers from India have been doing research for some time, and so there exists a knowledge base. Irrigation water is a common property resource issue and that is how it has been addressed in terms of research. Distorted market subsidies for electricity inducing wrong incentives for farmers are widespread in India leading to excess extraction of groundwater as well as inefficient use of energy. The next two themes related to electricity water nexus and bioenergy-climate-water nexus are themes that haven't been explored and research in India is in very initial stages on these issues. Dr. Chaturvedi highlighted that the technologies that the Indian government is pursuing, mainly nuclear and solar, are associated with much larger withdrawal of water compared to conventional thermal technologies. The carbon capture technology, which might play an important role in the long run future under a climate constrained world, consumes double the water compared to a non-CCS thermal power plant. Also, though India is not expected to be a big bioenergy producer in the future, the marginal impact bioenergy can potentially have in terms of water demands as well as on land use dynamics for food crop production is not going to be insignificant.
Dr. Chaturvedi concluded by highlighting that an analytical framework, one like discussed by him, is important and all researchers should develop their own competing frameworks to add to richness and rigour of food-water-energy-climate research in India.