Our figure of the month 12/2022: Water extraction almost halved since 1991
Energy sector, private households and chemical industry are the largest consumers
Since 1991, water extraction has been almost halved through the use of water-saving technologies and processes and amounts to approximately 28 billion cubic meters per year. The energy sector, the manufacturing industry and private households still require the most water.
Industrial water extraction is highest in the chemical industry (9%). In general, this development follows the economic activity. In coal mining and energy supply, water extraction has already been reduced to 50% and two-thirds respectively compared to 1991. With the end of coal mining and the complete phase-out of nuclear power at the end of April 2023, water extraction will continue to decline.
The share of private households has increased over time from 7% to 11%, although water consumption per capita is relatively stable. The driver is population growth.
The majority of water is used in industry and energy supply for cooling. Irrigation is the main use in agriculture, and households use water for drinking as well as for cooking, washing and flushing toilets.
Prolonged drought and hot spells are likely to increase water extraction. Industries often have long-term water use contracts that guarantee negotiated water extraction volumes at comparatively favorable prices. At the same time, a decrease in water availability is expected.
In its "National Water Strategy", the German government is focusing on the multiple use of water in order to counteract water shortages in the long term and to secure the water supply. Adjustments to water extraction charges for industry are being discussed.
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