Water withdrawals

The commitment to reducing environmental impacts is also reflected in the conscious and sustainable use of water resources in all the Group’s processes and services, in terms of both withdrawals and consumption and releases and discharges.

The water supply to the Group’s sites is made by withdrawing water from surface water bodies (reservoirs, rivers), from the sea and from groundwater pumped from wells and municipal water.

In 2021, the Group’s water withdrawals decreased by approximately 7% compared to the previous year, despite increases from the change in scope, which were more than offset by lower energy production. There was an increase in seawater withdrawals, used solely at the Genoa Sampierdarena cogeneration plant, which more than doubled its energy production in 2021 compared to 2020.

Water withdrawal by source (m3/000)1      
Sources 2021 2020 2019

Municipal water




Surface water
















1 All withdrawal sources (except seawater) are composed of freshwater (≤1,000 mg/L of total dissolved solids). Water withdrawals for the production of hydroelectric energy are not included, as they are through water, withdrawn from surface water bodies (rivers, streams) and returned to them downstream of the plants, without changing their chemical and physical characteristics. For the integrated water service, withdrawals for industrial use in water treatment and purification activities are considered, and throughputs feeding local community waterworks are excluded.

Most Group companies have implemented a certified environmental management system (ISO 14001) and the main production sites have EMAS registrations; therefore, they have procedures for the management of water resources, which represent an operating tool for the management of withdrawals and discharges. The procedures apply to:

  • the various types of production processes and/or supplies of services, which require the use of the water resource, even for a secondary purpose;
  • water withdrawal of any type and purpose;
  • treatments and qualitative modifications of the resource water made for any reason;
  • water discharges of any nature, purpose and origin, discharging on soil, subsoil, in surface water bodies and sewers.

Iren Group pays particular attention to the implementation of initiatives to reduce water withdrawal for industrial and civil use in all of its activities.

In energy production, each activity regarding the use of water sources is regulated by legal provisions of the law or authorisations with the responsibility laying in the hands of the Legal Representative of the Company or Managers, provided with specific powers of attorney and proxies, who have the task of managing and supervising the correct performance of the activities and the correct application of the procedures. Moreover, the environmental analysis document, prepared for each site/plant, allows for the identification of the environmental aspects related to water resources and the obligations foreseen by environmental legislations. The analysis also identifies the applicability of the legislation to the Group’s plants as well as the compliance with the regulations in force. The Torino Nord co-generation plant, for example, is equipped with recovery systems for rainwater and condensation produced by the turbine’s air input refrigeration system. The industrial water produced is stored in a tank and used for firefighting purposes, to supply the demineralised water production installation and for plant-related services.

In waste-to-energy plants, priority is given to the recovery and recycling of water for combustion slag shut-down and plant cooling.