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Water energy nexus

Challenges

The interrelations and interdependencies between water and energy are well known; The interconnected challenges and key issues of both sectors should there for be addressed together. This priority area considers three relations: energy for water, energy from water and water for energy.

Barriers

European water and energy policies are not sufficiently integrated, resulting in neglecting interconnected effects. Furthermore, economic incentives to adopt efficient water and energy technologies are inadequate. Water and wastewater processes lack low energy technologies, whereas the application of renewable energy is hindered by low efficiency. In addition, these processes are designed to run with constant energy supply, while most renewable energy sources provide variable energy supply. Meanwhile, efficient and cost-effective technologies to recover energy from wastewater are not yet fully available.

Market opportunities

The market potential for innovation in this area is expected to be very high. The potential of energy savings in water treatment processes, or through reduced demands of transporting water in infrastructures is very significant. With regard to the potential capacities for energy production, the energy contained in wastewater could be up to around 2% of the total energy demand, while it is expected that worldwide blue energy and tidal energy could contribute to at least 7% to the future energy needs. In addition, more than 50% of the industrial sectors' water demand (which is around 20% of the total water demand) is used to produce energy. Furthermore, there is a lack of low energy irrigation technologies that can be applied by modern agriculture. Efficiency gains in these processes will bring significant opportunities.

Objective

The contribution of base-load renewable energy produced from water in the European energy mix is significantly increased, while efficient technologies for water use, treatment and recovery of energy from (waste) water are developed, applied and marketed.

Initial Actions

The Steering Group of the EIP Water invites Action Groups to develop and test:

  1. Approaches for reducing energy consumption related to drinking water production, wastewater treatment, industrial water use, and irrigation for agriculture.
  2. Innovative and widely applicable solutions for energy recovery and/or surplus energy production both from water in natural systems as well as from anthropogenic water use.
  3. Develop and demonstrate widely applicable concepts and solutions for water use related to energy production, urban and industrial hot/cold water systems.