The water-energy nexus repowering the EU

The water-energy nexus is the interdependency of water and energy: energy is needed for abstracting, storing, treating or disposing water but also for moving, heating and cooling water across industrial cycles, while water is also heavily used for the generation and transmission of energy. The nexus holds the potential to generate large-scale energy and water savings across sectors and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The energy use by water and wastewater infrastructure amounts to about 4% global electricity consumption and 3,5% in the European Union (IEA, 2016).

Water utilities can become energy neutral and even energy positive with existing technologies and low costs of investments.

The revision of the EU Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive (UWWTD) represents a key opportunity to deliver the transition in the sector. A good way forward would be introducing an energy efficiency target for wastewater treatment plants of a certain size, for example bigger than 10,000 in population equivalent (p.e.). Mandatory energy audits for wastewater treatment operators which include measuring water efficiency could also help advance the energy efficiency of the sector.

This would reinforce and echo new provisions on water and the energy savings obligations for public bodies, currently being negotiated by co-legislators in the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) recast.

Digitalisation in the water sector is an important enabler towards energy neutrality. In wastewater treatment, existing digital solutions can achieve significant energy savings with limited investment needs (no civil engineering or hardware costs) within a short period of time. Intelligent pumps for wastewater management, for example, can save up to 70% energy per utility with 80% inventory reduction, thus lowering costs for utilities.

Saving water, saves energy and saving energy saves water. It is now time to advance energy efficiency and “RePower” the EU through the water-energy nexus!

by Tania Pentcheva
Senior Manager Government and Industry Relations
Xylem Inc.  

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EED recast: EU Council adopts general approach on EED

Today, the Council of the European Union adopted its general approach on the recast of the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED). This is a fundamental legislative step for the Union to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 and phase out fossil fuel imports from Russia as soon as possible.

EU-ASE welcomes that for the first time, the Union is getting closer to finally have a binding target for energy efficiency, departing from the current Energy Efficiency Directive which only sets an indicative energy efficiency objective. Furthermore, although national contributions are not binding, the Council agreed on a governance of the Directive which would allow the Commission to activate a “gap-avoider” mechanism if the sum of contributions do not add up towards the EU target. It is an important step forward.

But the Council lost a major occasion to put Energy Efficiency first and act on high energy prices by creating the right regulatory conditions to reduce energy demand for families and business. Firstly, the Council did not take up the proposal of the Commission to increase the energy efficiency target of at least 13% as issued in the REPowerEU strategy.

This is hardly justifiable, knowing that a 9% target would still imply Member States importing 233 bcm of fossil gas annually from third countries, while a 19% target would reduce gas imports to 104 bcm per year i.e. achieving in full the goal to reduce to zero Europe’s dependence on Russian natural gas, as Russia accounts to 40% of all of the EU’s gas imports. Secondly, Ministers did not agree to make the target for primary energy consumption binding, thus undermining the potential for energy savings gained at system level.

Monica Frassoni, President of the Alliance, said: “The Council general approach is not the end of the story: the European Parliament’s rapporteur position aims to a much more ambitious 19% energy efficiency target by 2030, which reflects the potential for energy savings. We support wholeheartedly the effort of the rapporteur Niels Fuglsang and of the many stakeholders at EU and national level working to boost investments in energy efficiency. Energy Efficiency First will increase Europe’s resilience and is a formidable way to address the energy and climate crisis”.

You can find the full press release here 


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The European Alliance to Save Energy (EU-ASE) is a cross-sectoral, business-led organisation that ensures that the voice of energy efficiency is heard across Europe. EU-ASE members have operations across the 27 Member States of the EU, employ over 340.000 people in Europe and have an aggregated annual turnover of €115 billion.

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Open letter to EU Energy Ministers on the revision of the Energy Efficiency Directive

The European Alliance to Save Energy sent a letter addressing the EU-27 energy and climate Ministers, ahead of the Energy Council meeting on 27 June.

The Russian military invasion of Ukraine has exacerbated the energy crisis and urged EU governments action to reduce soaring energy prices. As adopted in the Versailles Declaration by the European Council and as proposed by the European Commission in the REPowerEU plan, an ambitious revision of the Energy Efficiency Directive is critical to first and foremost reduce Europe’s energy demand.

Following the application of the Energy Efficiency First principle, improving energy efficiency across all sectors goes hand in hand with the replacement of fossil fuel solutions by cleaner, renewable energy sources. By reducing energy demand and optimising the full energy system through the reduction of peak demand, energy efficiency allows to reduce the need for investments in new generation, transmission and distribution systems, and thereby also ultimately reducing the costs passed onto consumers.

Read the full letter here

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The water-energy nexus: an untapped resource for major energy savings

Water requires energy. When we move it, clean it, heat it and cool it—energy moves with it. These two precious resources come together seamlessly in our daily lives, but they can also jointly create significant energy savings. Unleashing the potential of the water-energy nexus will drive substantial energy savings to repower the EU while drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions, says Hayati Yarkadas at Xylem Europe on Foresight Climate & Energy ahead of the first edition of the European Energy Efficiency Day. 

The water-energy nexus refers to the link between energy use in water management and water use in energy production. Water and wastewater infrastructure account for 3.7% of the global electricity consumption. The good news is that any efficiency gains in one benefits the other.

And by using high-efficiency technologies, we can cut half of that energy consumption at zero or negative cost. This would be equivalent to removing 9.2 million fossil-fuelled cars per year and it would free up $40 billion to invest in other types of water infrastructure.

The nexus also holds the potential to generate large-scale energy and water savings across sectors and drastically reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions—an important element to address the impending climate change crisis.

We must move to an energy-neutral wastewater sector to achieve climate neutrality in Europe.

 

Read the full article here

More information on Energy Efficiency Day here & Register here.

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Adding energy efficiency into the energy mix is essential to delivering Europe’s climate goals

Simply rolling out renewables will not be enough to end Europe’s dependency on gas. Energy efficiency is just as important, writes Katarzyna Wardal on Foresight Climate & Energy ahead of the first edition of the European Energy Efficiency Day.

Energy efficiency should be considered as important as other power generation fuel types Despite it not often making the headlines, energy stakeholders and lawmakers know that energy efficiency can drastically reduce the carbon footprint of Europe’s building stock, which currently accounts for about 40% of the EU’s energy consumption and 36% of greenhouse gas emissions.

But what about energy efficiency as a form of fuel? That may sound like an absurd suggestion. Yet this is exactly the type of idea we need if Europe is to have even a remote chance of achieving any of its ambitious energy and climate goals, whether it is gaining energy independence, reducing its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 55% by 2030 or becoming carbon neutral by 2050.

At least 75% of the EU building stock is energy inefficient. Among other factors, these buildings lack the proper insulation needed to keep heat in (or, in the summer, out). Therefore, they need higher flow temperatures to deliver the same level of indoor comfort. Needless to say, getting that higher temperature requires more energy.

This highlights the correlation between energy efficiency and energy use. With heating and cooling responsible for an estimated 35% of a building’s total energy consumption, increasing a building’s energy efficiency can go a long way in reducing fuel use. In other words, the more efficient the building, the more energy saved. As these savings means less energy needs to be produced, energy efficiency should not only be included in the energy mix but given equal footing to other fuel types.

Read the full article here.

More information on Energy Efficiency Day here & Register here.

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