Skip to main content

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 and transportation sectors.

Key Activities

Ongoing activities include the examination of potential differences in future electricity scenarios under cases of limited water availability and electricity sector impacts of high renewable penetration scenarios.

This work evaluates the development of the electricity sector from 2010 to 2050 using the Regional Energy Deployment System (ReEDS) model. The ReEDS model has high geographic resolution. The ReEDS model has an industry-unique capability to include water resources as a constraint to future electricity development.

Example Projects

Sample Publications

This work evaluates and optimizes power plant dispatch decisions on a high temporal and spatial resolution, along with evaluating the relative capacity value of various types of generation sources. The PLEXOS model is currently being modified to include water resources in its economic optimization. The Renewable Energy Probabilistic Resource Assessment (REPRA) model can be used to evaluate power plant vulnerabilities from various factors, including water.

Example Projects

Sample Publications

NREL's life cycle assessment work examines and harmonizes life cycle water use data across various energy pathways. Electricity generation pathways and alternative transportation fuel pathways are considered. Harmonization efforts seek to minimize uncertainty in reported values and provide a consistent metric by which comparisons can be made across fuel types.

Example Projects

Sample Publications

This work evaluates water management opportunities and tradeoffs related to unconventional oil and gas development. This work considers the availability of alternative, non-fresh sources of water that could potentially be utilized in oil and gas operations. In addition, this work incorporates technical and economic elements in decisions regarding optimum treatment options for managing produced water.

Example Projects

Sample Publications

NREL's resource assessment and climate impacts work seeks to evaluate how climate changes could affect water resources, and in turn how that could affect energy security and the future development of the electricity sector. Activities include working with key partners to downscale climate scenario data and modifying data for application in models.

Example Projects

Sample Publications

NREL's biomass feedstock water analysis focuses on characterizing the geospatial and temporal dynamics of biomass feedstock water requirements. Water requirements for biomass feedstocks can vary geographically and can require different types of water inputs (e.g., rainfall vs. irrigation), which can affect the suitability and sustainability of biomass pathways.

Example Projects

Sample Publications

NREL's biomass to biofuels conversion water analysis identifies key areas of water usage and reduction opportunities related to the production of biofuels. This work compares tradeoffs in costs, efficiency, energy, and water usage during biomass to biofuels conversion processes.

Example Projects

  • Water Requirements and GHG Emissions for Marginal Gasoline and Cellulosic Ethanol Production
  • Improvement in the Consumptive Water Use in NREL's Biochemical Conversion Process
  • Water Use in Biochemical Design

Sample Publications

  • Improvement in the Consumptive Water Use in NREL's Biochemical Conversion Process, NREL Special Report (2011)
  • Water Use in Biochemical Design Case, NREL Milestone Completion Report (2013)

NREL's transportation system analysis research focuses on the system- and fleet-level impacts and opportunities of the transportation sector. Projects evaluate advanced vehicle technologies utilizing simulation and analysis tools to better understand system-level impacts as well as alternative fuel pathways.

Example Projects

Sample Publications

A numbered map divided into regions. Each region has four scenario results for 2030 and 2050 in bar charts showing the impacts of higher renewable energy technologies use on water consumption.

Regional scenario results for 2030 and 2050 showing the impacts of higher renewable energy penetration on regional water consumption. Figure 6. from J. Macknick, et al. Environ. Res. Lett. 7 045803

Enlarge image

Capabilities

  • ReEDS capacity expansion model with water resource constraints
  • PLEXOS production cost model
  • REPRA capacity value model
  • Bioenergy Water Footprinting Tool

Contact

Jordan Macknick

Jordan.Macknick@nrel.gov | 303-275-3828