Overall, the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (UWWTD) has played a substantial role in improving the quality of European water resources and reducing pollution levels in water bodies. However, Europe remains some way from full compliance with collection and treatment requirements and has made little progress with water reuse. We believe the 28-year-old Directive should be updated to better address these critical issues and today’s challenges including climate change, resource scarcity, increased energy consumption and population growth.
With this workshop, co-organised with the Maltese Ministry for Energy, Enterprise and Sustainable Development, we explored policy, technological and practical approaches to fully realise the highly needed energy savings and achieve the emissions-reduction potential of the water-energy nexus.
Water and energy are highly interdependent (‘water-energy nexus’) and should be considered as such across all European Union policies. This would ensure the availability of Europe’s water resources, while supporting the EU energy and climate objectives, in particular those related to energy efficiency.
Energy is needed to abstract, distribute, heat, cool, treat and desalinate water. Water and wastewater sectors account for 3.5% of electricity use in the EU and that share is expected to rise over the next years. For municipalities, water and waste water facilities account for the largest consumption of electricity, representing 30-40% of local authorities’ total electricity bill.
Smart water management across the water sector as well as industrial, commercial, and residential water cycles can lead to significant energy savings. The key is to fully understand the energy-water nexus, its ability to generate water and energy efficiencies, and its contribution to deliver the ambitious goals of the European Green Deal.
The workshop featured:
- A keynote address from Miriam Dalli, Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Sustainable Development of the Republic of Malta
- An overview of the EU policy and regulatory framework related to the water-energy nexus by Veronica Manfredi, Director for Quality of Life, DG Environment, European Commission; and Robert Nuij, Deputy Head of Unit for Energy Efficiency, DG Energy, European Commission
- Case studies presentations by leading businesses to support current EU policy implementation and future policy and regulatory developments
- Q&A with the panelists
- Conclusions by Simona Bonafè, Member of the European Parliament and of the ENVI and ITRE Committees
This paper showcases concrete examples of water and energy saving projects across sectors and European countries. These feature some of the most advanced environmental technologies currently available on the market, allowing to deliver environmental, economic and social benefits.
Water and energy are deeply entwined. The water-energy nexus refers to the relationship between how much energy is needed for abstracting, moving, heating, cooling, storing, treating and disposing water and how much water is used for generation and transmission of energy.
This nexus is expected to intensify in the coming years. So far, Member States have notified a limited set of water-related measures in the framework of Article 7 of the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED). The most frequently notified measure is the production of hot water by solar collectors or more efficient gas water heaters. However, these measures rather relate to heat generation than water production, distribution, use, and wastewater treatment.
Raising awareness about the energy-water nexus can help:
- Member States prioritise efficient use of both water and energy;
- the business community to bring to market technologies and solutions designed to deliver water and energy savings across industries, municipalities and buildings; and
- the EU to deliver the energy savings and emission reductions necessary to achieve the ambitious goal of climate neutrality by 2050.
The European Alliance to Save Energy (EU-ASE) welcomes the opportunity to provide feedback to the European Commission’s publication of an inception impact assessment on the revision of the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (UWWTD).
While the Directive has played a substantial role in improving the quality of European water resources and reducing pollution levels in water bodies, we believe that Europe remains some way from full compliance with collection and treatment requirements and has made little progress with water reuse.
We believe the 29-year-old Directive should be updated to better address these critical issues and today’s challenges including climate change, resource scarcity, increased energy consumption and population growth.
Based on this, EU-ASE would like to highlight the following recommendations to support the Commission in its ongoing work on the UWWTD revision.
1. Digitalisation as a key opportunity.
2. Make use of data transparency and advanced data analytics for a knowledge based
3. Preserving natural water resources with smart water management.
4. Better legal framework for urban runoff and storm water management.
5. Carbon neutral waste water management.
6. Circular economy for water.
7. Supporting investments.
The European Alliance to Save Energy is one of the undersigned organisations and businesses that stand with the 375,000 European citizens who have urged the EU governments and the European Commission to preserve the European Union’s groundbreaking Water Framework Directive in its current form, as advocated by the #ProtectWater campaign.
The Water Framework Directive is the key law to ensuring that freshwater ecosystems in Europe are protected and restored and water is sustainably managed, fully supporting the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
This law has provided a stable regulatory framework and has encouraged collective water stewardship action in river basins across the EU.
The joint statement is signed by:
AquaFed, Aqualia, Compagnie Intercommunale Liégeoise des Eaux, The Coca-Cola Company, Coca-Cola European Partners, Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company, Dupont Water Solutions, Ecolab, European Alliance to Save Energy (EU-ASE), European Fishing Tackle Trade Association, European Outdoor Conservation Association, Greencore, Grundfos, H&M Group, Heineken, Knauf Insulation, Kyoto Club, NVP Energy Solutions, Suez, Veolia, WAKEcup Global, Water Europe, and Xylem.