Due to the nature of its industrial processes, ENGIE pays particular attention to water management in its energy production and wastewater treatment processes. Since water is an essential resource for life, the availability and quality of water resources are two key priorities for the planet. ENGIE works on these issues by implementing operational measures and by lending ideas to international discussions on this issue (World Water Forum, CEO Water Mandate).
The commitments of the Group
The Group is committed to 7 actions, in keeping with the requirements set out in the CEO Water Mandate (a UN Global Compact initiative):
- To identify which sites are exposed to a water risk and for each one draw up local action plans;
- To check the compliance with local legislation;
- To design an action plan for all sites identified as being exposed to an extreme or high water stress;
- To measure the water footprint of all activities;
- To improve disclosure and transparency on the issue;
- To help improve water management and governance;
- To encourage suppliers to take into account their water issues.
Taking action at the source
ENGIE undertakes several actions to improve water management by limiting water withdrawal and consumption, privileging wastewater-recycling solutions and limiting the environmental impact of water discharge. This set of measures aims not only to reduce the volume of water used, but also to maintain water quality throughout industrial processes and upon its return to the natural environment.
Combating water stress
This commitment has notably led to programs to improve the assessment of ENGIE ’s water footprint, by identifying facilities located in areas of water stress and implementing action plans to reduce the impact of ENGIE activities on local water resources.
Improving reverse osmosis desalination technology
Using a new statistical tool to evaluate the quality of pretreated water and to determine the optimal dosages of chemical products: The ENGIE Research & Innovation department has developed a new statistical tool that evaluates the quality of pretreated water and optimizes chemical dosages. Developed by Laborelec and Degrémont, these new statistical methods have identified six unique types of seawater that differ in composition. For each of these types, the methods have helped to optimize the quantity of chemical products needed for treatment and to determine the best pretreatment method to implement. The tool has also helped establish recommendations for the design and maintenance of desalination stations.
Water footprints are an essential starting point for analyzing the impact of activities on water resources. Several methods for evaluating water footprints are currently available. With the support of the CRIGEN expertise center (dedicated to natural gas, new energies and emerging technologies) and Laborelec (Electrabel’s research center), the Sustainability Department works to find the evaluation method best adapted to energy businesses. The first step was taken in 2012 with the Life Cycle Analysis of each kWh of electricity. Initial results will be analyzed and used in 2013.
Since 2007, the Group has served as a member of the CEO Water Mandate, an initiative launched in the framework of the United Nations Global Compact to bring together companies on the issue of improving water quality. In this context, ENGIE has committed to optimizing water management at its facilities, while also working with its suppliers to enhance their performance in this field and improve the quality of treated wastewaters. The commitment also aims to develop partnerships with stakeholders in order to discuss issues related to sustainable water management and to set up transparent progress reports in this field.
ENGIE was among the companies involved in the “Harmonize water and energy” target group at the 2012 Global Water Forum. In 2013, these efforts will notably continue through the creation of the WEC-WWC Advisory Council. The purpose of this international workgroup is to establish a methodological framework for measuring the impact of energy businesses on water resources. ENGIE lends its ideas to the project as an active member of the steering committee.
ENGIE is also taking part in the WBCSD Water Leadership Group. This group’s Water project covers several aspects of how businesses manage water, including risk assessment, the drainage basin method, the water-energy-food network, the reuse of waters and a business approach to the value of water. The project’s results will be shared throughout the WBCSD in order to help companies continue to optimize water resources in their industrial processes by applying the knowledge and tools developed through these joint efforts.