Cooling water

Explanation of the problem

A prolonged period of heat, combined with drought, can lead to issues for businesses that use and discharge cooling water for their operational processes. There is a distinction between users of cooling water from tap water (e.g. data centres) and cooling water from surface water (e.g. power plants).

Prolonged heat causes the temperature of the cooling water to rise, and a low water level results in a shortage of cooling water. If the surface water becomes too warm, discharging cooling water to prevent harmful ecological effects is prohibited. This situation can lead to a reduced production capacity. For energy companies, this could ultimately mean that power plants need to reduce their energy production (brownout) or even shut down entirely (energy blackout).

Information and maps for better understanding

Basic maps according to the standardized stress test


Additional maps

  • Map showing the number of summer or tropical days now and in the future (Climate Impact Atlas) → provides an indication of the increase in problems related to cooling water.
  • Locations of companies that require cooling water in combination with the vulnerability of cooling water during heat and drought.

Some measures and guidelines

  • Install additional physical provisions around cooling water supply facilities to ensure production is not jeopardized during cooling water shortages.
  • Network redundancy: Ensure that alternatives are available.
  • Develop prioritization for (emergency) measures in case of cooling water shortages.