Water conservation is critical to the health and sustainability of our planet. Experts project a 40% shortfall between water demand and fresh water supply by 2030, and by 2050, nearly three billion people will live in water-stressed areas.
Air Products cannot operate facilities around the world without adequate water supplies, and this reality drives us to be good stewards of water.
We use water primarily for cooling, to make hydrogen using the SMR process, and to provide steam and water to our customers. The steam is a co-product of our SMRs and has a significant energy efficiency advantage when compared to steam generated from boilers. Because of these uses, our water consumption is tied closely to energy use; therefore, improvements in energy efficiency can also conserve water. We also use water for safety systems (i.e., fire suppression) and cleaning, but these do not have a material impact on our water consumption.
Air Products has established a goal to reduce water consumption by 5% on an indexed basis by 2020 from a 2015 baseline. We achieved this goal in 2017 and continued to improve water efficiency during 2018, reducing our water intensity by 8% in 2018, for a total reduction of 18% since the baseline year.
Our consumption of water, on an absolute basis, increased to 16.7 million gallons in 2018 due to increased production required to meet our customers needs, globally.