Our stakeholders are entering into an increasingly intense debate about the global use of water and its shortage. We need large quantities of water for the cooling of our power stations. Depending on local conditions, we use water drained from opencast mines, surface water, or seawater and brackish water (salt water at a lower concentration than seawater). We only use comparatively low amounts of drinking water for our operations. We make strenuous efforts to conserve water resources by recycling, internal reprocessing and the use of collected rainwater.
Most of the water removed is returned to the ecosystems. In 2012, the amount of water removed came down significantly compared with previous years because the Biblis nuclear power station ceased operation. This power station was operated with continuous-flow cooling and therefore had a high requirement for cooling water.
We treat contaminated water in dedicated treatment plants at the power station or conduct the water to sewage treatment plants. These procedures are monitored by government authorities. This ensures that no pollutants from the wastewater are able to enter the river systems. Once again, no water pollution was caused by operation of our power plants in 2012.
The analysis we have initiated covers activities at the plants operated by the Group companies relevant to water and also takes account of ‘water-stressed areas’. These areas are either affected by a shortage of water or high risks of flooding and we want to record these areas and map them in a further stage of analysis during the course of 2013.