EDP fosters the implementation of environmental management systems as a component part of an overall management system. It includes the organisational structure, planning of activities, responsibilities, practices, procedures, processes and resources needed to develop, implement, review and maintain an environmental policy.

All thermal and hydro-electricity generating power stations have environmental management systems implemented in accordance with the ISO 14001 standard, and thus foster the ongoing improvement, prevention and minimisation of their impacts. All of EDP's thermoelectric power stations in Portugal are certified in accordance with the ISO 14001 standard.

The main impacts originating from burning fossil fuels by thermoelectric power stations are the air emissions. EDP has invested in monitoring and minimising the impacts, namely by desulphurisation and denitrification in coal-fired power plants.

The gaseous effluents produced by the facilities are continuously monitored and minor pollutants, e.g. heavy metals and volatile organic compounds, are regularly measured.

Currently all EDP Group coal-fired thermal power stations have SO2 and NOx emissions reduction systems. 

NOx Total Emissions (kt)

SO2 Total Emissions (kt)

Particulate Total Emissions (kt)


Water is an essential resource for EDP operations and is used to produce steam in power plants, electricity production through water turbination, and for other uses such as irrigation and human consumption.

R​ecognizing the importance of water management, EDP published in 2012 the Water Management Policy. The reduction of water consumption is an overall objective of the EDP Group and has been included in the environmental programs of thermoelectric power plants. The use of cooling towers in all new projects has substantially minimised this impact, as it significantly reduces the amounts of water collection and consequently rejected into water resources. 

The variations that occur in water withdrawals are mainly due to higher or lower production levels of the different thermoelectric power plants at certain periods.
Water withdrawn by source (x103 m3) 

The greater withdrawal of water is for the use in the thermal plant cooling process. In open circuits, almost all the water is returned. In closed circuits, the withdrawn water is primarily needed to replace the water evaporated in cooling towers.

The water withdrawal sources are several, however approximately 97.8% of the collected water has its origin in the ocean and is intended to be used in Sines (Portugal) and Aboño (Spain) thermal power plants.

Cooling water use (m3x103)

The high hydraulicity registered in Portugal (+36% of hydric production compared to 2015) and the withdrawal from service of Soto de Ribera (Spain) Thermal Power Plant’s 2nd Group, contributed to the reduction of the volume in the water collection meant to be used in the cooling circuits (-14% compared to 2015), offsetting the whole first production year of the Pecém (Brazil) Thermal Power Plant, which justifies the annual variation 2016-2015.

Apart from the cooling water, other main uses of water taken into account in EDP are raw water consumption and water for human consumption, representing the uses of fresh water. 

In 2016, EDP Group recycled or reused 649,771 m3, including the condensed in cogeneration plants.

Since 2008 EDP answers in an annual basis to CDP Water. In this questionnaire EDP identifies its strategy, goals, water management plans, risks and opportunities, and EDP performance.

View EDP’s answers to the CDP Water here. (PDF) 

EDP operates a waste management programme that continuously strives to recover waste and reduce its production at the source.

Waste generated by EDP’s activities is collected and stored separately. It is then sent to licensed waste management operators hired to carry out waste recovery processes as the preferred final disposal method.

The European Parliament and the Council Directive 2008/98/EC on waste, introduced several changes to the management of waste, emphasizing the definition of byproduct and what are the underlying reasons for this classification. Within the framework of energy production by the EDP Group, in 2010 were recognized by the competent authority as byproducts coal ash, coal slag (in Spain), and Gypsum from desulfurization. Thus, in line with current legislation from the year 2011 EDP reports distinctly waste and byproducts.

Total waste sent to final disposal (t)

     2013            2014            2015            2016

Total waste by hazardousness and final destination (t)

According to the Basel Convention, EDP limits the transboundary movement of its wastes. Its exportation is limited to PCB wastes or to incident situations in which the country producing that waste has no technical capacity or the necessary facilities to eliminate it.

In line with the legislation applied, PCB contaminated equipment with concentrations below 500 ppm is maintained until the end of its lifespan. Nevertheless, EDP is anticipating its disposal, prioritizing this type of equipment within its substitution plans.


EDP carries out sporadic noise measurement campaigns in order to check compliance with legislation in force.
 The evaluation and control of the quality of environmental noise has been an area of special focus in distribution, given that such facilities are often located close to residential areas.

EDP has been implementing acoustic insulation measures in the construction of new infrastructures.

In addition to fully complying with the applicable legislation and regulations, EDP systematically follows the development of national and international scientific studies. It also adopts the recommendations of global reference entities, especially those of the World Health Organization (WHO).

Fuels, together with water, make up the main natural resources used by electricity generation processes at thermoelectric power stations, by the vehicle fleet and some administrative buildings. In particular, with regard to the production of electricity, where fuel consumption is more significant, the following amounts could be observed:

Fuel consumption in the production activity


Note: “Other gases” includes top gas, gas coke, metallurgical gas.

Along the last decade, a globally decreasing trend has been observed in what concerns the primary energy consumption related with these fuels. However, in 2015, the consumption increased significantly (56% above 2014), explained by the entry into service of Pecém’s (Brazil) coal-fired power plant in the EDP Group’s consolidation perimeter and also by a low hydraulicity index in Iberia (0.77), which resulted in a stronger use of this type of power plants in this geography. In turn, 2016 was a strongly hydraulic year in Iberia (1.33), which allowed a stronger hydroelectric production and, as a consequence, a smaller use of coal-fired power plants. Also to be referred that, from 2011 on, the cost of coal based electric energy production, including the price of CO2 licenses, was always below the natural gas one, not allowing the reversal of the order of merit of coal-fired power plants with natural gas combined cycle power stations, in spite of these latter being more efficient and less greenhouse gas emitters. 


In addition to these resources, the operations of EDP Group involve the use of chemicals, with greater focus for the use in the production of electricity, and oils in all its activities. 

Chemical products consumption

Within the framework of EDP's business, we also make use of consumption of electricity that generates indirect CO2 emissions: in particular, power plants own consumptions, partly covered by their own production, electricity consumption in office buildings and the corresponding to grid losses.


EDP’s thermoelectric power plants have treatment facilities for liquid effluent in order to guarantee the quality of the water disposed of in water resources. 

EDP’s thermoelectric power plants continuously monitor and regularly analyse specific parameters of the treated liquid effluent, in accordance with the methods and frequency defined in their environmental permits and legislation. In the particular case of Soto Ribera, the discharge is in the river Nalón, which is declared Place of Community Interest, and their effluents are subject to conditions of temperature and chemical-physical parameters that guarantee no change in the receiving environment.

View detailed information on the quality of effluent treated and disposed of by EDP’s thermoelectric power plants:

> 2016







The thermal impact of cooling water from EDP’s thermoelectric power stations is regularly monitored in accordance with the specific characteristics of each plant and their environmental licences. Aerial thermographs and measurements taken allow EDP to check compliance with the established temperature limits.

Our main air emissions are fugitive-like (see “Atmospheric Emissions”).

Until 2015, EDP only accounted for this category of leakage. By the end of 2016, EDP Gás defined the operating procedure “Calculation of Atmospheric Gas Emissions” with the aim of organizing possible situations to occur in natural gas release into the atmosphere and establishing a single methodology, to be applied by both gas operators in Iberia (Naturgás Energía and EDP Gás Distribuição), meant to estimate and calculate the amount of gas emitted due to operations in the natural gas network, according to the four categories of emissions/leakage.

Our commitment consists in monitoring and acting to diminish emissions. The final results show that atmospheric emissions are low (0,003% of the distributed gas). Part of this result is explained by the fact of the infrastructure being recent and has been built with the best equipment and procedures available at the moment.

Gas technical leakage in the distribution networks