Optimal urban water conservation strategies considering embedded energy: coupling end-use and utility water-energy models.
Abstract:Although most freshwater resources are used in agriculture, a greater amount of energy is consumed per unit of water supply for urban areas. Therefore, efforts to reduce the carbon footprint of water in cities, including the energy embedded within household uses, can be an order of magnitude larger than for other water uses. This characteristic of urban water systems creates a promising opportunity to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, particularly given rapidly growing urbanization worldwide.
Based on a previous Water-Energy-CO2 emissions model for household water end uses, this research introduces a probabilistic two-stage optimization model considering technical and behavioral decision variables to obtain the most economical strategies to minimize household water and water-related energy bills given both water and energy price shocks. Results show that adoption rates to reduce energy intensive appliances increase significantly, resulting in an overall 20% growth in indoor water conservation if household dwellers include the energy cost of their water use.
To analyze the consequences on a utility-scale, we develop an hourly water-energy model based on data from East Bay Municipal Utility District in California, including the residential consumption, obtaining that water end uses accounts for roughly 90% of total water-related energy, but the 10% that is managed by the utility is worth over $12 million annually.
Once the entire end-use + utility model is completed, several demand-side management conservation strategies were simulated for the city of San Ramon. In this smaller water district, roughly 5% of total EBMUD water use, we found that the optimal household strategies can reduce total GHG emissions by 4% and utility’s energy cost over $70,000/yr. Especially interesting from the utility perspective could be the “smoothing” of water use peaks by avoiding daytime irrigation that among other benefits might reduce utility energy costs by 0.5% according to our assessment.