Power plants depend on water

Poland’s renewable water resources per capita are among the smallest in the world. The world average is 7413 m3/year per capita, whereas in Poland it is only 1597 m3/year. In terms of water availability in the European Union we are only ahead of the Czech Republic, Denmark, Cyprus and Malta. Moreover, there are many countries in the desert and semi-desert regions which total renewable water per capita resources are higher than these in Poland, eg Sudan, Chad, Australia and Chile. Meanwhile, the relationship between energy production and water supply is ignored in Poland.

Water - the hostage of power plants

Water-consuming by the coal-based energy is one of its biggest drawbacks. The coal industry in Poland consumes as much as 70% of the total water intake in our country. This is the highest percentage of consumption around the world. For comparison across the European Union it is only 13%. This is mainly due to the fact that obsolete power plants using cooling in the open system are remain operational in Poland. As many as 38% of coal power plants in Poland are more than 40 years old. They use 45% of water – a significant amount of 3 535 million m3 of water a year. The consequences of the water crisis are already noticeable – in 2015 rivers in Poland were not able to keep up with the needs of cooling systems of coal power plants. In order to prevent the entire network from failure, the transmission grid operator has reduced electricity supplies to large consumers of electricity. The risk of a blackout is real.

Ostrołęka C - a thirst to quench?

Ostrołęka C will have a closed-loop cooling system. This means that it will draw water to replenish lost resources during evaporation in the cooling tower. Paradoxically, while water intake in such systems is much lower than that in open cooling systems, such power plants are characterized by much higher water consumption. The 500 MW coal-fired power plant draws about 10 million cubic meters and consumes 8.4 million cubic meters of water a year. It is as if drying 200 Lakes Constance. Ostrołęka C will collect water from the Narew River – in the Natura 2000 site of ​​the Lower Narew Valley which protects precious species and habitats. This poses a serious threat to water resources and to the valuable wildlife that depends on them.