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Operation of all Jänschwald power plant units would exacerbate water shortage in the Spree River

Cooling water consumption hampers drinking water production

kraftwerk jaenschwalde

Cottbus, 24.06.2022. The environmental network GRÜNE LIGA warns of an aggravation of the water shortage in the Spree River due to the German government's planned re-commissioning of the Jänschwalde E and F power plant units. Drinking water supplies for two million people may also be affected. If at all, these units should therefore only be used secondarily to other power plants.

"If units E and F are heavily utilised, the Spree will lose another 13 million cubic metres of water per year through the cooling towers. Since the blocks were last in operation, the water shortage in the Spree region has massively worsened due to the drought years. A renewed increase in cooling water consumption can therefore be at the expense of drinking water production for Berlin and Frankfurt (Oder)," warns René Schuster, lignite expert of the GRÜNE LIGA.


The Jänschwalde lignite-fired power plant is cooled by evaporating water in cooling towers. This reduces the amount of water that can enter the Spree from the river's catchment area via the Malxe. Especially during low water in summer, the balance of the Spree area is already extremely strained without this consumption. The Friedrichshagen (for Berlin) and Briesen (for Frankfurt-Oder) waterworks obtain drinking water from the Spree's bank filtrate. The river provides drinking water for a total of about 2 million people.

An expert report for the Brandenburg state government from 2011 puts the cooling water consumption of the Lusatian lignite-fired power plants at 2 cubic metres of cooling water per megawatt hour of electricity generated (source cited below). With a high utilisation of 7,000 full load hours and two times 465 megawatts net output, a cooling water consumption of about 13 million cubic metres per year can be estimated. With a lower-ranking use compared to other power plants, the utilisation in full-load hours and thus the cooling water consumption is likely to be lower.

Source: GEOS Ingenieurgesellschaft mbH: Consideration of the impacts on the environment, here in particular the water bodies and the water balance for the scenarios of the expert report "Grundlagen für die Erstellung der Energiestrategie 2030 des Landes Brandenburg", 24.11.2011, p. 17. (in German)


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