Skip to main content

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.

Key Activities

This work evaluates energy and water efficiency and renewable energy opportunities at Department of Defense (DOD) forward operating bases (FOBs) to help DOD meet sustainability goals while increasing installation security. Water and fuel are high-priority requirements at FOBs. NREL's work helps meet both energy and water goals simultaneously.

Example Projects

  • Energy, water, and renewable opportunities assessment at Bagram Air Force Base
  • Demonstration and testing of small-scale waste-to-energy technology for FOBs
  • Demonstration and testing of Consolidated Utility Base Energy (CUBE) System

Core Capabilities

  • FOB Optimization Tool
  • Field demonstration of small-scale waste-to-energy gasification systems
  • Lab testing of power production units

Sample Publications

Waste-to-Energy: Hawaii and Guam Energy Improvement Technology Demonstration Project, NREL Technical Report (2014)

NREL's work in emergency response/disaster recovery evaluates the critical interconnection of water and energy and the associated vulnerabilities exposed in disaster scenarios. Rebuilding more resilient infrastructure that explicitly identifies these core energy-water linkages is a central theme in NREL's work. Islands often face similar challenges related to energy-water vulnerabilities and also offer an opportunity to plan integrated infrastructure.

Example Projects

  • Identification of critical water and wastewater infrastructure and opportunities for more resilient distributed generation systems after Hurricane Sandy
  • Identification of energy efficiency opportunities for island water and wastewater operations in Guam
  • Modeling of energy use associated with water and wastewater utilities in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Core Capabilities

  • Renewable Energy Optimization (ReOpt™) tool
  • Modeling energy systems for powering critical water infrastructure

Sample Publications

NREL's work on building and campus-level energy-water analysis and optimization seeks to characterize the linkages between energy and water use and identify opportunities for efficiency and operational optimization. This work addresses building-level opportunities as well as larger campus-level opportunities.

Example Projects

  • Net Zero Energy-Water-Waste analysis for Fort Carson
  • Net Zero Water Guide development for U.S. Forest Service
  • Training facility managers in conducting water audits
  • Numerous energy and water audits at federal facilities

Core Capabilities

  • Renewable Energy Optimization (ReOpt) tool
  • Energy and water auditing
  • Modeling and training

Sample Publications

NREL's work in water management with renewable energy technologies seeks to analyze the potential for renewables to pump, treat, and/or transport water, along with opportunities to produce energy from water and wastewater plants.

Example Projects

  • Producing energy through anaerobic digestion from wastewater
  • PV-powered water pumping
  • Renewable energy opportunity (REO) analysis for Bureau of Reclamation Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project

Core Capabilities

  • Renewable Energy Optimization (ReOpt) tool
  • HOMER Energy tool

Sample Publications

NREL has existing platforms for international research and information dissemination that could be leveraged to provide greater international outreach related to the energy-water nexus.

Example Projects

  • Clean Energy Solutions Center (CESC): NREL operates the CESC on behalf of UN-Energy and the Clean Energy Ministerial. The Solutions Center serves as a first-stop clearinghouse of clean energy resourcesincluding policy best practices, data, and analysis toolsand shares these resources with a global forum of energy experts, policymakers, and other stakeholders.
  • 21st Century Power Partnership: NREL coordinates development of the 21st Century Power Partnership, which aims to unlock deployment of large-scale energy efficiency and variable renewables through peer learning and collaboration across regulators, grid operators, and others on policies and programs that advance use of smart grid solutions and clean energy technologies.
  • Enhancing Capacity for Low Emission Development Strategies (EC-LEDS): NREL serves as the Technical Secretariat for EC-LEDS, a U.S. government program to support developing countries' efforts to pursue long-term, climate-resilient economic growth while slowing the growth of greenhouse gas emissions.

Core Capabilities

  • Geospatial Toolkit
  • Global Solar Opportunity Tool
  • OpenEI
Diagram of an active indirect solar hot water heater.

Schematic of energy-water system tradeoffs and connections for the Navajo Generating Station and the Central Arizona Project
Figure 1-1 from Navajo Generating Station and Air Visibility Regulations: Alternatives and Impacts

Enlarge image

Notable Projects

  • Army Net Zero Energy-Water-Waste Initiative
  • Renewable Energy Opportunity Analysis for Navajo Gallup Water Supply Project
  • Navajo Generating Station-Central Arizona Project Analysis
  • U.S. Virgin Islands Desalination Project

Capabilities

  • Renewable Energy Optimization (ReOpt) tool
  • Clean Energy Solutions Center
  • FOB Optimization tool

Contact

Jordan Macknick

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