Climate change and increasing electricity production affect future freshwater requirements for thermoelectric power plants in Europe. This paper explores the reasons and shows ‘hot spots’ for further analysis. A scenario and simulation approach was selected to estimate water availability and water uses in Europe up to 2050. Depending on the scenario, water withdrawals in thermal electricity production would increase by 64% or decrease by 92% between 2005 and 2050. At the same time, average summer water availability is expected to decrease because of climate change in southern and south-eastern parts of Europe. In these regions in particular, hot spots were identified where water is scarce and where growing water demand is likely to exacerbate water stress which may cause economic losses. Hot spots identified in the Economy First scenario indicate increasing competition for freshwater resources for the thermal electricity production sector. Increasing efficiency and improved awareness as assumed in the Sustainability Eventually scenario can reduce these hot spots by 90%.
Keywords: climate change, cooling water, scenarios, SCENES, thermal power plants