Fortum uses large volumes of water at various types of power plants and in district heat networks. In most cases, our power plants do not consume water, but the water is discharged back to the same water system from where it was withdrawn. The properties of the water may change in the process, but the volume of the water generally remains unchanged. In some cases, water is transferred to another recipient, e.g. through evaporation into the air from cooling towers, leaks into the ground from district heat piping, or through the discharge of wastewater to a municipal sewage system.
Hydropower production is a special case of water use. Water flowing in a river is conducted through a turbine to generate electricity. No water is consumed nor are the properties of the water altered in the process. However, the water system is often regulated for hydropower production, and the regulation changes the water flow and level patterns compared to their natural state. Fortum does not report water flows in rivers as water use related to hydropower production.
Condensing power production requires large volumes of cooling water. Cooling water accounts over 90% of Fortum’s total water withdrawal annually.
Fortum’s condensing power plants in Finland, the Loviisa nuclear power plant and the Meri-Pori power plant, are located in coastal areas and use direct seawater cooling. No water is consumed in the process and the water withdrawn is discharged back into the sea. The only change is an approximately 10 °C increase in the temperature of the cooling water.
Condensing power is occasionally produced also at our CHP plants. In most cases, the cooling water is withdrawn from a local water system. In Russia and Poland, cooling towers are used, so some of the cooling water evaporates into the atmosphere.
Our water usage and waste water amounts are reported in our Sustainability report.