Non-climate sustainability dimension - REMIND

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Model Documentation - REMIND

Corresponding documentation
Previous versions
Model information
Model link
Institution Potsdam Institut für Klimafolgenforschung (PIK), Germany,
Solution concept General equilibrium (closed economy)MAgPIE: partial equilibrium model of the agricultural sector;
Solution method OptimizationMAgPIE: cost minimization;

Air pollution

Emissions of air pollutants are derived as described in section "GHGs".


The water module of REMIND represents water demand for electricity production and is extensively described in Mouratiadou [1]; [2]. The description that follows is based on excerpts from these two papers. More extensive details on the methodology can be found in their Supplementary Online Materials, while a summary is provided below.

In REMIND, water demand for electricity production represents requirements associated to cleaning, cooling, and other process related needs (e.g. flue gas desulfurization). Both the water withdrawal and water consumption indicators are quantified. All four principal cooling systems are considered, those being once-through open systems (with freshwater or sea water), recirculating wet towers, pond cooling, and dry towers.

Based on these indicators and cooling systems, REMIND carries out an ex-post estimation of operational water demand for the electricity sector, by combining exogenous information on the water requirements per electricity and cooling technology with endogenous information on the electricity mix and technology vintages. Thermoelectric power plant cooling requirements are estimated as a function of excess heat, as opposed to a function of electricity output. Therefore, differences in water intensities in time or across regions due to differences in power plant thermal efficiencies and the age structure of thermal power plants are taken explicitly into account.

In sum, our estimate of water demand for electricity is based on the mix of electricity production technologies, the shares of cooling technologies, the water withdrawal and water consumption intensities, the vintage structures and the power plant thermal efficiencies. Global water withdrawal and consumption for thermal power technologies (WTt) are calculated by multiplying the excess heat from thermal power plants with the share of technology vintages (Vin), the vintage-specific share (csh) of different cooling technologies (cl), and the cooling technology specific water withdrawal or consumption coefficient for excess heat (cheat) and summing over regions, technologies and vintages.


Global water withdrawal and consumption for non-biomass renewable technologies elr (WRt) are estimated in a similar manner, only that they are based on electricity output (El) and electricity output-based coefficients instead of excess heat.


Water withdrawal and consumption coefficients per electricity output are based on Macknick [3]; [4], and have been converted into the coefficients for excess heat for the thermal power plant technologies (cheat) by back calculating the respective value for the US for 2005. The shares of cooling technologies per electricity technology are deduced from Kyle [5].

Currently, the electricity water demand estimates do not include water demand for fossil fuel extraction or for the irrigation of bioenergy crops. Additionally, water quantity and quality constraints, or the costs and technical characteristics of various cooling technologies, are not taken explicitly into account.

  1. Mouratiadou I, Biewald A, Pehl M, et al (2016) The impact of climate change mitigation on water demand for energy and food: An integrated analysis based on the Shared Socioeconomic Pathways. Environmental Science & Policy 64:48–58. doi: 10.1016/j.envsci.2016.06.007
  2. Mouratiadou I, Bevione M, Bijl D, et al (submitted) The water-electricity nexus in deep decarbonization scenarios: a multi-model assessment)
  3. Macknick J, Newmark R, Heath G, Hallett KC (2011) A Review of Operational Water Consumption and Withdrawal Factors for Electricity Generating Technologies. National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, Colorado
  4. Macknick J, Sattler, S., Averyt, K., et al (2012) The water implications of generating electricity: water use across the United States based on different electricity pathways through 2050. Environmental Research Letters 7:045803
  5. Kyle P, Davies EGR, Dooley JJ, et al (2013) Influence of climate change mitigation technology on global demands of water for electricity generation. International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control 13:112–123. doi: 10.1016/j.ijggc.2012.12.006