Source: U.S. Department of Energy, 2006Enlarge image
Water is required to produce energy. Energy is required to pump, treat, and transport water. The energy-water nexus examines the interactions between these two inextricably linked sectors. NREL helps policymakers, researchers, and investors understand and evaluate energy choices within this complex web of connections between energy and water. NREL's analysis, datasets, and advanced integrated modeling capabilities help illuminate the connections between energy, environment, economy, security, and quality of life.
Highlights of Energy-Water Nexus Activities
NREL holistically addresses the energy-water nexus from a variety of different angles. NREL evaluates energy-water tradeoffs via four interconnected pathways: energy-water modeling and analysis, technology development and demonstration, and energy-water systems solutions.
Find out more about NREL's energy-water nexus analysis:
Regional scenario results for 2030 and 2050 showing the impacts of higher renewable energy penetration on regional water consumptionEnlarge image
Energy-Water Modeling and Analysis
NREL's energy-water modeling and analysis activities analyze the interactions and dependencies of water with the dynamics of the power sector and the transportation sector. A variety of models and tools are utilized to consider water as a critical resource for power sector development and operations as well as transportation fuels.
- Electricity Capacity Expansion Modeling (ReEDS)
- Production Cost Modeling and Valuation (PLEXOS/REPRA)
- Life cycle assessment
- Unconventional oil/gas development
- Resources/climate impacts
- Biomass feedstock analysis
- Biomass to biofuel conversion analysis
- Transportation fleet/system analysis
Schematic of a seawater desalination system powered by concentrating solar power.Enlarge image
Technology Development and Deployment
NREL has extensive experience and expertise related to energy-water technology research all along the supply chain. NREL has designed alternative cooling systems to reduce water needs on-site, developed anti-soiling coatings to reduce wash water needs for solar technologies, explored desalination opportunities utilizing renewable energy technologies, investigated marine hydrokinetic technology opportunities and characteristics, and evaluated manufacturing systems for various technologies.
- Low-water cooling system designs
- Anti-soiling coatings for PV and CSP solar collectors to reduce water needs
- Desalination with renewable energy technologies
- Marine hydrokinetic research
Schematic of energy-water system tradeoffs and connections for the Navajo Generating Station and the Central Arizona ProjectEnlarge image
Energy-Water System Solutions
NREL has been a pioneer in the development of energy-water system solutions that explicitly address and optimize energy-water tradeoffs. NREL has evaluated energy-water system solutions for Department of Defense bases, islands, communities recovering from disasters, individual buildings and campuses, and large-scale water treatment and transport facilities.
- Department of Defense Forward Operating Base (FOB) analysis
- Emergency response/disaster recovery and island rebuilding
- Building/campus-scale energy-water analysis and optimization
- Water management with renewable energy technologies
- Energy-water synergies
- International platforms
NREL is exploring a unique system-of-systems concept to energy systems integration (ESI). This approach considers the relationships among electricity, thermal, and fuel systems and data and information networks to ensure optimal integration and interoperability across the entire energy system spectrum. This ESI framework can be adapted to evaluate energy and water system interactions. To learn more about NREL's energy system integration research, visit the Energy Systems Integration Facility website.
For questions, contact Jordan Macknick.