Developing Region-Specific Water Energy Intensity Factors for the U.S. Water System

Friday, 19 December 2014
Robin L Newmark, Alicen Kandt, Jordan Macknick, Jennifer Daw, Randy Hunsberger and Gregg Tomberlin, National Renewable Energy Laboratory Golden, Golden, CO, United States
Energy use by water and wastewater treatment plants equates to approximately 4% of total energy use in the United States. For many municipal water and wastewater treatment plants, energy costs related to pumping, treating, and transporting water represent a large fraction of total costs. The energy intensity of any given utility is heavily variant dependent on location and regional conditions, but energy requirements are generally expected to increase in many regions due to limits on water resources and regulatory requirements for water quality. Quantifying the energy use associated with our nation’s water system – the energy needed to convey, extract, treat and distribute water in a particular location – is an important step in understanding the impact and interconnections of the water system on the energy system, in identifying opportunities for savings, and in improving existing modeling and analytic methods for both energy and water systems. Local topography and other regional conditions can greatly affect how much energy a particular water facility utilizes, which in turn affects its relationship with the broader electricity sector. This research evaluates what previous and current efforts have been undertaken to quantify water energy intensity factors (w-EIFs) on a regional scale, provides first steps for cataloguing resulting datasets and findings, and initiates a methodology for developing regional and localized w-EIFs. Improved regional w-EIFs can facilitate national reductions in energy intensity metrics by highlighting areas where energy savings opportunities could provide the greatest benefit.