Supporting healthy water systems

Access to clean water and sanitation is a basic human right. At Ørsted, we’re committed to continuously reducing our impacts related to water withdrawal, consumption, and discharge – particularly in regions where water is scarce.

Why must we be mindful of our impact on water systems?  

Global water systems and clean freshwater supplies are under increasing pressure from human consumption, pollution, and the consequences of climate change. At Ørsted, we want to develop renewable energy that helps nature thrive, ensuring that energy production doesn’t deplete or pollute our global water systems. 

What are we doing? 

  • We’ve set a water target to reduce our total freshwater withdrawal intensity (m³ per GWh) by 40 % from 2021 to 2025.

  • We work to reduce our impacts related to water withdrawals, consumption, and discharges, particularly in regions where water is scarce. The majority of Ørsted’s total heat and power generation comes from wind energy, which requires almost no direct freshwater withdrawals. Our main use of water is linked to our Danish combined heat and power (CHP) plants, and already today, 99 % of our total withdrawals is seawater rather than freshwater. The seawater is used for cooling at our CHP plants, where it’s circulated in a closed system and returned to sea with a slight temperature increase but with no other impacts on the coastal ecosystem. 

  • We’ve established a working group to explore additional initiatives that use alternative water sources, including rainwater, produced water, and desalinated seawater. 

How are we doing?

We have a target to reduce our total freshwater withdrawal intensity by 40 % by the end of 2025 compared to 2021. 


Reduction in freshwater withdrawal intensity (m³ per GWh) 

Latest updates from 2022  

This year, we set a target to reduce our total freshwater withdrawal intensity (m³ per GWh) by 40 % from 2021 to 2025. 

To progress towards our 2025 target, we’ve:  

  • disclosed our first publicly available CDP water security report to transparently report on the details of our water management approach. We received the score B, on par with the average score for major energy companies. Going forward, we’ll use the CDP framework to guide our actions in our water programme.
  • established a set of water sustainability principles to future-proof the growth of our P2X business, a renewable technology that relies on available volumes of clean water. The principles restrict the use of clean freshwater resources in arid areas and areas with high levels of water stress, and outline our general ambition to use alternative water sources. 
  • introduced new water saving initiatives at our CHP plants, including steam reduction in relation to soot blowing, leakage minimisation in condensate systems, and reduction of drainage from boilers and turbines.
  • obtained limited assurance of water data in our ESG reporting.  

What’s next?  

Building on the approach we’ve taken for our climate targets, we aspire to set science-based targets for all of our nature impacts.  

We’ll use the first upcoming methodology from the Science Based Targets Network (SBTN) on freshwater to inform our approach. We’ll also conduct further mapping of potential water impacts throughout our supply chain.

Key information 


  • We’re a member of the SBTN Corporate Engagement Program to help develop science-based targets for nature. 
  • We engage with Kalundborg Symbiosis and Copenhagen district heating, through which we use wastewater from Equinor and HOFOR instead of clean freshwater resources. 

International frameworks 

  • Science Based Targets Network 
  • CDP water security questionnaire 
  • Global Reporting Initiative 303: Water and effluents 2018 


Accountability lies with our Chief Operating Officer. Our QHSE Committee ensures that implementation is carried out by individual business units. 


  • Ørsted Water management policy (PDF) 
  • Ørsted Policy for quality, health, safety, and environment (PDF) 

This programme contributes towards the following Sustainable Development Goals: 

Sustainability programme

Using biomass as part of a sustainable energy system 

Biomass plays a significant role in the Danish energy system. It’s essential that 100 % of the biomass we source is certified as sustainable.