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 (OECD, CEO Water Mandate, BAFWAC).
The commitments of the Group
The Group has renewed its water policy in 2020.
Based on the core elements of the CEO Water Mandate, the main issues are:
- Identifying sites subject to water stress, and develop action plans
- Analyzing water-related risks and opportunities in projects
- Contributing to the improvement of water management and governance in the territories and working with stakeholders
- Implementing available technologies to reduce the impact on discharges
- Identifying suppliers with a water issue, based in particular on the work carried out on the water footprint, and encourage them to develop action plans
- Integrating sustainable water management into customer services
- Taking action for access to water, sanitation and hygiene in the workplace.
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.
Australia - Change of water source
The serious droughts that have occurred in recent years in Australia and the increase in demand for drinking water have led local companies to promote alternatives to the use of fresh water. One example is the Kwinana cogeneration power plant, located near Perth, that modified its processes in order to substitute 80% of its fresh water with recycled industrial process water. Companies in the industrial zone have since followed the plant’s example, further reducing the demand for fresh water.
Mitigating water stress impact
This commitment has notably led to programs focused on the improvement of ENGIE’s water footprint assessment (through the identification of facilities located in areas of water stress) and the implementation of action plans to reduce the impact of ENGIE activities on local water resources.
Each year, ENGIE is assessing the risk of water stress for the Group's industrial sites by using the Baseline water stress index of the Aqueduct (World Resource Institute) tool. In 2018, 40 sites are located in the extreme water stress zone (5,5% of the sites, excluding wind and solar), of which about action plans are being implemented. The impact of water stress is strongly related to the type of activity and the fresh water needs of the site. Only 6 sites out of 40 need fresh water (threshold = 100 Megaliters/year). For the others, the advantage is to contribute to the preservation of fresh water resources, for example by facilitating the reuse of water with other actors of the watershed.
Chile – Water reuse from the power plant to a mine
Currently a portion of the cooling water of Mejillones Conventional is sold to a copper and molybdenum mining company in the Region of Antofagasta, decreasing the water discharged to the sea and preventing further removal of seawater elsewhere in the Bay of Mejillones. The water is sent through an aqueduct 140 km long, from Mejillones to the mining site. Meetings are held with local authorities to promote the use of sea water used by the cooling system of the plant.
In 2019, ENGIE has achieved a good score: Management B. This result is the product of years of improvement in the water management within ENGIE’s activities, and confirms the good performance of the Group on environmental issues. The CDP’s water program motivates companies to disclose and reduce their environmental impacts by using the power of investors and customers. The data CDP collects helps influential decision makers to reduce risk, capitalize on opportunities and drive action towards a more sustainable world.
The Group has set an objective to reduce fresh water withdrawal regarding the energy produced worldwide. -15% in 2020 compared to 2012. In 2019, the ratio was decreased by 39%.
Water stewardship in practice
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 ENGIE Lab Environment and society (research center of ENGIE), the CSR Division 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. The water footprint of the natural gas value chain has also been assessed in 2015-2016.
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.
During the COP21, ENGIE has signed the “Business Alliance for Water and Climate” (BAFWAC).
The signatories companies commit to:
- Analyzing and sharing water related risks to implement collaborative response strategies.
- Measuring and reporting water use data
- Reducing impacts on water in operations and throughout the value chain.
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