The power sector is one of the most significant users of water in the UK. Whether used consumptively or not, the resource is vital for the sector to be able to generate electricity. Energy UK members in the Joint Environmental Programme (JEP) have produced a report on water use at thermal power plants, which sets out the current status of UK power plant water use as well as future scenarios and their potential implications for the water requirements of the power sector and other societal water demands. You can read the full report here.
According to the Environment Agency, overall water use (mains water plus direct abstraction) by the combustion sector decreased by 20%, from almost 2 billion m3 in 2014 to 1.6 billion m3 in 2015. This is mainly due to the closure of large ‘once through cooling’ power stations under the Large Combustion Plant Directive.
Since 2010, net water use by the sector has decreased from 0.19 billion m3 to 0.11 billion m3 in 2015, falling by 20 million m3 between 2014 and 2015.
1) Chart: Independent Development of Water Use in Scenarios for Future Thermal Power Stations.
Water Resources East
Energy UK is currently a partner in the Water Resources East (WRE) project: a cross-sectoral project led by Anglian Water working with input from the energy, agricultural, water supply and environmental interest groups.
The WRE mission is to work in partnership to safeguard a sustainable supply of water for the East of England, resilient to future challenges and enabling the area’s communities, environment and economy to reach their full potential.
The East of England is already facing the threat of water shortages. Climate change, population growth and abstraction reductions mean that the risk of water shortages will be even greater in future, unless we take action now. WRE is pioneering a new, collaborative approach to water stewardship. The project is working to create a multi-sector long-term water resource strategy, which balances affordability and reliability with sustainability and environmental stewardship.
Energy UK is providing input on the potential impacts of water shortage on the power sector.
For more information, see the Water Resources East website.