Flexible plant operation and rapid load changes become major issues for steam turbine operation. In thermal power plants, the steam turbine performance is closely related to the condenser, and an accurate prediction of coolant temperature as function of changing weather conditions is necessary in order to optimize power plant fleet operation. In this contribution, a one-dimensional model for simulating the performance of large natural draft wet cooling towers is presented. The evaporation zone model rests on the evaporative cooling theory developed by Merkel and Poppe. The off-design behavior of the cooling tower, that is relevant to part load performance, is modeled by an empirical power-law approach. A user-friendly method is presented in order to identify required model parameters by means of already available power plant data. The simulation tool can be employed easily for existing power plants for which the original cooling tower design and construction data lost their validity. The outcome of the present calculation method is successfully compared with field data from representative cooling towers at Middle-European sites.