Energy-Water Nexus

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A hybrid Sankey diagram from The Water-Energy Nexus: Challenges and Opportunities report, issued by DOE in 2014, shows interconnected major energy and water flows in the U.S.

A hybrid Sankey diagram from The Water-Energy Nexus: Challenges and Opportunities report, issued by DOE in 2014, shows interconnected major energy and water flows in the U.S.

Energy and water systems are interconnected. Energy is required to extract, treat, and deliver water. On the other hand, water is used in multiple phases of energy production and electricity generation, from hydraulic fracturing and irrigating crops for biofuels to providing cooling water for thermoelectric power plants. As these issues play out on a complex policy landscape, EPSA pursues data systems, modeling, and policy analysis that links technology and forward-looking policy across different aspects of the energy-water nexus.

Since 2013, EPSA has co-led cross DOE collaboration through the Energy-Water Nexus Crosscut Team. The team has helped shaped national thinking about the energy-water nexus and built a large network inside and outside the government. EPSA led the team in drafting of the 2014 DOE report: The Water-Energy Nexus: Challenges and Opportunities. In 2015, EPSA co-led a series of six Secretarial Roundtables that drew in over 100 stakeholders from industry, utilities, academia, nonprofits, and state and local government and helped to refine priorities for DOE across the nexus.  

EPSA addresses national data, analysis, modeling, and policy needs by convening diverse stakeholders in workshops, developing new publically available data and modeling resources, and supporting analysis. Workshops co-led by EPSA range from Energy-Positive Water Resource Recovery to Capturing the Benefits of Integrated Water Resource Management for Water and Electricity Utilities. To address data needs, EPSA has worked with DOE’s Energy Information Administration to improve publically available data on water use for thermoelectric cooling. EPSA is also in the process of developing a database of state level water policies affecting the energy sector.  Recent analyses supported or completed by EPSA include a look at potential water-related vulnerabilities in refineries, an econometric analysis of dry cooling adoption, and an analysis of the potential energy benefits of advanced metering infrastructure in the water sector. In addition, EPSA is developing several policy white papers that bridge between energy and water domains at the federal and state level. EPSA is also pursuing additional analyses of the regulatory, economic, and market aspects of thermoelectric cooling; produced water in oil and gas; water utilities; and desalination. 

In addition, EPSA supports domestic work under several international collaboration initiatives. EPSA is supporting the U.S. development of data and analysis to inform planning, policy, and other decisions through the energy and water track of the U.S. China Clean Energy Research Center (CERC);  systems analysis for U.S. teams participating in the U.S.-Israel Integrated Energy and Desalination Design Challenge; and collaboration with the EU on integrated power and water systems modeling.