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. The droughts of recent years have only reinforced the need for action. ENGIE works on these issues by implementing operational measures and by lending ideas to international discussions on this issue including the OECD and the CEO Water Mandate.
The oceans, key elements in carbon capture, are also threatened by human activity. ENGIE's activities interact with this resource directly, through the cooling of certain power plants or the heating of liquefied gas, desalination or offshore wind power, and indirectly, through hydraulic structures on rivers, greenhouse gas emissions, atmospheric discharges or waste produced.
The commitments of the Group
The Group has updated its Water policy in 2022.
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.
ENGIE has included water matters in its commitments to 2030: to reduce its consumption of fresh water per energy produced to 0.1 m3/MWh by 2030.
In 2022, the Group made a public commitment to the oceans through the "UN Ocean principles", and in 2023 signed the "Business Leaders' Open Call to Accelerate Water Action" launched at the UN Water Conference to demonstrate the mobilization of players around the subject of water.
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.
SPEM, Montoir-de-Bretagne: Efficient use of water
The implementation of ENGIE's SPEM project, the first combined-cycle power plant in western France, is fully in line with a sustainable development approach. Its technological and environmental performance will strengthen the grid in the Pays de la Loire region. Its proximity to the LNG terminal will reduce the plant's environmental impact: the water heated by the plant can be used by the LNG terminal to regasify liquefied natural gas, thus conserving water without impacting the ecosystem.
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 to which all of the Group’s industrial sites are exposed, by using the Baseline water stress index of the Aqueduct (World Resource Institute) tool. In 2022, 33 sites are located in the extreme water stress zone (4% of the sites, excluding wind and solar). For these sites, 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 33 need fresh water (threshold = 100,000m3/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.
Supporting local communities in resource management
As an economic player, ENGIE is committed to working alongside other players in watersheds to preserve water resources.
Brazil - Preservation of water sources
The Wellsprings Preservation program began in 2010 in the municipality of Chopinzinho, in southwestern Paraná, and has been replicated in several regions where ENGIE Brazil operates. The aim of the project is to protect watersheds, guarantee the supply of quality water to current and future generations of local communities, and create a culture of water resource preservation in the areas where ENGIE Brasil operates, relying on raising awareness among the population and involving them in preservation actions. The project is implemented through partnerships between ENGIE, social entities and local communities, thanks to over 800,000 Brazilian reals invested, and enables the preservation of over 2,000 water sources, impacting over 1,500 families.
Contributing to ocean preservation
The development of ENGIE's activities as part of the energy transition reinforces the Group's interest in contributing to the preservation of the oceans.
In addition to the importance of preserving marine environments when discharging waste into sea water (thermal power plants, desalination plants), the Group, alongside EDP via its OceanWinds subsidiary, is becoming a key player in the preservation of coastal areas.
Offshore wind farm development projects designed to respect ecosystems
ENGIE's offshore wind farm development projects are designed to respect local ecosystems.
For the installation of floating wind turbines in the Parc naturel marin du golfe du Lion, measures have been put in place to respect ecosystems:
- making the Marine Natural Park a mandatory contact for successful project developers,
- act in full compliance with the "Avoid, Reduce, Compensate" doctrine,
- ensure the socio-economic development of the project,
- encourage the maintenance of landscape quality.
The Park's Management Board has issued a favorable opinion on the environmental impacts and uses associated with the floating offshore wind farm pilot project, attesting to the project's sound environmental integration into its surroundings.
With its offshore wind farm projects, off Dieppe Le Tréport and the islands of Yeu and Noirmoutier, ENGIE is committed to protecting marine biodiversity by reducing the environmental impact of the wind farms. Different species of birds and marine mammals are present at different times of the year in and around the wind farm areas, which can create a variety of potential effects (collision, barrier, loss of habitat, sensitivity of animals to noise) and impact the projects, particularly in terms of their location, construction and operation. Avoidance, reduction and compensation measures are in place to reduce the potential impact of the wind farms on birdlife, notably through digital acoustic and aerial monitoring.
In 2022, ENGIE was awarded a B for its water-related commitments by the rating agency CDP. This is the result 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.
Status of water consumption reduction target:
Water footprints are an essential starting point for analyzing the impact of activities on water resources. Several water footprint assessment methods are currently available. ENGIE has chosen the assessment method best suited to the energy business. In 2012, the first step was to carry out a Life Cycle Assessment of each kWh of electricity. The water footprint of the natural gas chain was also assessed in 2015-2016.
External partnerships and commitments
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.
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