environmental dimension
Natural Resources

Water is essential for the existence of life on Earth and a natural resource of irreplaceable environmental, social and economic value.

EDP recognizes access to drinking water and sanitation as a universal Human Right and assumes its responsibility in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, in particular SDG 15, contributing to a sustainable use of freshwater ecosystems services, while also striving to guarantee affordable and clean energy for all, in line with SDG 7.

Commitment

Under its Environmental Policy, EDP commits to environmental protection, mitigating company’s impacts, managing risks, stimulating R&D + Innovation and promoting continuous improvement in processes, practices and performance through a collaborative approach with its stakeholders towards an efficient use and a sustainable management of water.

Use and manage water sustainably in all processes, operations and installations, by continuously improving performance.

Water dependency and impacts

Water is a vital resource for EDP’s electricity generation activities, in particular hydro generation, an important part of the company’s renewable generation portfolio and crucial to its CO2 emissions reduction and climate change mitigation strategy.

Thermal power plants also depend on the quantity and quality of available water, both for cooling and process needs.

EDP’s activities can impact, both negatively and positively, on water resources and ecosystems:

  • The existence of dams transforms lotic into lentic systems with very different eco-hydraulic characteristics
  • The use of water by thermal power plants results in the emission of wastewater and may increase the temperature of water bodies receiving cooling water discharges
  • Hydropower plants reservoirs increase access to water for other uses, such as agriculture, water consumption and recreation, serving as strategic water reserves and helping the regulating of floods downstream.

Main use of water in EDP’s supply chain is associated with coal extraction. Given the progressive reduction of coal in the company’s generation portfolio and the location of coal suppliers in low water stress areas, water-related supply chain risks are not considered material. 
 

Performance

EDP uses the CEO Water Mandate guidelines for its working definition of key water-related concepts, and supports its high-level water stress exposure risk assessment on the WBCSD Global Water Tool and WRI Aqueduct.

At an operational level, the company follows national performance standards for water-related indicators (withdraws, consumption, discharges’ quality). In Europe, these standards are supported by the application of the Best Available Techniques (BAT), for thermal power plants, and by the Water Framework Directive, for hydropower facilities’ management.

FRESH WATER CONSUMPTION (MILLION M3)
2018
2017
2016
2015
FRESH WATER CONSUMPTION (MILLION M3)
Municipal water supplies or from other private entity
2018
13.83
2017
16.85
2016
16.98
2015
13.32
FRESH WATER CONSUMPTION (MILLION M3)
Fresh surface water
2018
14.40
2017
20.03
2016
16.04
2015
43.16
FRESH WATER CONSUMPTION (MILLION M3)
Fresh ground water
2018
0.19
2017
0.18
2016
0.16
2015
0.14
FRESH WATER CONSUMPTION (MILLION M3)
Water returned to the source of extraction at similar or higher quality as raw water extracted
2018
6.62
2017
8.68
2016
4.18
2015
11.24
FRESH WATER CONSUMPTION (MILLION M3)
Fresh water consumption
2018
21.80
2017
28.37
2016
29.00
2015
45.38

EDP publicly reports water indicators, on an annual basis, in its Sustainability Report, in accordance with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standards. It also responds to CDP Water Security Questionnaire, where it details its water-related strategy, commitments, management approach, risks, opportunities and performance.

Related content
CDP Water 2019

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CDP Water 2018

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Environmental Policy

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CDP Water 2017

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CDP Water 2016

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CDP Water 2015

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CDP Water 2014

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CDP Water 2013

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CDP Water 2012

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CDP Water 2011

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CDP Water 2010

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Fossil fuels, together with water, make up the main natural resources used by electricity generation processes at thermoelectric power stations, by the vehicle fleet and some administrative buildings. The electricity production capacity from fossil fuels, mostly coal and natural gas, is currently about 25% of EDP Group’s total installed capacity.

In recent years, due to the decreasing competitiveness of natural gas as compared to coal, coal plants have been preferred in the Iberian Peninsula. 

In order to contribute to the promotion of good practices and the integration of sustainability principles in the coal supply chain, EDP has joined the Bettercoal initiative, which fosters the compliance of different stakeholders with a code of conduct (see Related Content).

Resource consumption

In particular, with regard to thermoelectric powerplants, where fuel consumption is more significant, the following amounts could be observed:

UNIT
2018
2017
2016
2015
Coal
UNIT
t
2018
6,808,296
2017
8,339,258
2016
7,010,434
2015
8,403,447
Fuel oil
UNIT
t
2018
7,363
2017
4,535
2016
9,178
2015
6,751
Natural gas
UNIT
Nm3
2018
1,013,863,751
2017
1,489,213,344
2016
1,025,114,039
2015
756,227,174
Diesel oil
UNIT
t
2018
4,575
2017
4,135
2016
5,260
2015
4,290
Other gases
UNIT
Nm3
2018
3,814,437,570
2017
3,945,566,758
2016
2,787,537,500
2015
3,528,753,599
Notes:

t - ton
Nm3 - normal cubic meter 
"Other gases" include blast furnace gas, coke oven gas and oxygen steel furnace gas.

Until 2014, there was an overall downward trend in primary energy consumption associated with these fuels, a trend that was reversed in 2015, due to the entry of the Pecém coal-fired power plant in Brazil within the EDP Group's consolidation perimeter. In the last 4 years, the consumption of fossil fuels has fluctuated as a function of the hydraulic index (IPH) in the Iberian Peninsula, with predominance of coal over natural gas. The cost of producing electricity from coal, including the price of CO2 allowances, has not yet allowed to reverse the order of merit versus natural gas combined cycle plants, although the latter are more efficient and emit less greenhouse gases.


 

Chemicals are essential for the activities of electricity production and distribution.

A big part of the chemicals consumption is used in the water treatment process. The demineralization of water and the waste water treatment are among the most relevant processes using chemicals.


The activity of equipment maintenance also uses a great amount of industrial oil.

UNIT
2017
2016
2015
2014
Sodium hydroxide
UNIT
t
2017
5,24
2016
1,561
2015
1,864
2014
1,196
Hydrochloric acid
UNIT
t
2017
3,311
2016
2,734
2015
2,245
2014
1,857
Aluminum sulfate
UNIT
t
2017
39
2016
3
2015
6
2014
10
Amonia
UNIT
t
2017
31,573
2016
23,259
2015
23,058
2014
17,889
Hidrozine
UNIT
t
2017
5
2016
21
2015
2
2014
undefined
Oils
UNIT
t
2017
1,862
2016
120
2015
341
2014
186
Sodium hypochlorite
UNIT
t
2017
7,427
2016
4,268
2015
2,82
2014
276
Ferric chloride
UNIT
t
2017
106
2016
17
2015
240
2014
30

Soil is generally defined as the upper layer of the earth's crust, formed by mineral particles, organic matter, water, air and living organisms. Soil forms the interface between the earth, air and water and houses most of the biosphere (COM (2006) 231 final, p. 2). 
  
Soil is a non-renewable natural resource in the short term, takes tens of thousands of years to form and can be degraded within a few years, sometimes within hours. 

Electricity generation and distribution activities entail a risk of soil contamination arising from the use of oils, fuels, other chemicals, waste production and storage, and waste landfill management from coal flue gas treatment. 

Good practices for pollution prevention and soil protection  

To minimize the environmental impact on the soil, the risk of contamination is identified and assessed in accordance with the Environmental Risk Management Manual and the following good environmental practices for contamination prevention and control are adopted:

  • Environmental liabilities are identified according to:

          - the European law on environmental liability;
          - the due diligence process.

  • Employees, including service providers, are trained and made aware of the risks, consequences and ways of acting to eliminate or minimize the effects of an environmental occurrence with potential for soil contamination;

  • The use of prohibited pesticides in Europe (more stringent legislation) is prohibited; 

  • There are procedures for handling, loading and unloading and storing products with potential to contaminate; 

  • Equipment and materials are installed for the containment and isolation of possible accidental spills (containment / retention tanks, absorbent material containers, gutter and sink isolation devices, etc.); 

  • The storage of hazardous products is duly approved and registered with the competent authorities, endowed with the preventive measures established by the regulation and with the preventive maintenance that ensures their good condition; 

  • Hazardous substance stores are preferably covered, which prevents or minimizes the entry of rainwater and thus the leaching of possible contaminants; 

  • Hazardous substance handling areas are paved, waterproof and, where appropriate, have insulated containment systems (basins or similar), which are not connected to any sanitation network; 

  • Action in emergency scenarios (among others, those resulting from damage, fire, earthquake, explosion, acts of vandalism or sabotage, floods) is defined and is periodically trained; 

  • Piezometer networks exist for groundwater quality control in case the risk of contamination is not negligible;  

  • Notification is made to official entities if damage or an imminent threat of environmental damage is identified in the following situations:

         - spill having occurred in natural habitats and protected species;

         - spon analyzing types of soil, down to underlying layers of it, the values were found to surpass those of the Ontario Standards reference.