Water security implications of coal-fired power plants financed through China's Belt and Road Initiative

Meir Alkon, Xiaogang He*, Aubrey R. Paris, Wenying Liao, Thomas Hodson, Niko Wanders, Yaoping Wang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


As the world's largest proposed infrastructure program, China's Belt and Road Initiative will have significant implications for water security, sustainability, and the future of energy generation in Asia. Pakistan, a keystone of the Belt and Road Initiative, presents an ideal case for assessing the impacts of the Initiative's energy financing. We estimate the future water demands of seven new Chinese-financed, coal-fired power plants in Pakistan with a total capacity of 6600 MW. While these facilities may help address Pakistan's energy shortages, our results indicate that by 2055, climate change-induced water stress in Pakistan will increase by 36–92% compared to current levels, and the power plants' new water demands will amount to ∼79.68 million m3. Our findings highlight the need for China and the Belt and Road Initiative's destination countries to integrate resilience and sustainability efforts into energy infrastructure planning. Policy recommendations are offered to permit both sustainable development and responsible water resource management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1101-1109
Number of pages9
JournalEnergy Policy
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2019


  • Belt and Road Initiative
  • Coal
  • CPEC
  • Energy
  • Sustainability
  • Water resources
  • Water security
  • Water-energy nexus


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