Water and Power Systems Integration

NREL researchers evaluate synergies between energy and water infrastructure to identify opportunities where greater integration can lead to mutual benefits and improved reliability and resiliency.

Photo of a hydropower dam with a rainbow in the background.


NREL offers the following capabilities to support water and power systems integration in addressing the energy-water-land nexus. 

Zero-Emission Desalination

NREL performs technology-neutral analysis to inform technology development, validate performance, and support deployment of emerging water treatment technologies and their integration with energy systems. Our efforts have explored water treatment powered by solar energy, wind energy, wave energy, geothermal energy, and waste heat from power and industrial applications.

Key Staff

Sertac Akar, Jennifer Daw, Dale "Scott" Jenne, Jordan Macknick, Ismael Mendoza, Craig Turchi, Adam Warren


Analysis of a Wave-Powered, Reverse-Osmosis System and Its Economic Availability in the United States:

Preprint, American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ International Conference on Ocean, Offshore and Arctic Engineering (2017) 

Use of Low-Temperature Geothermal Energy for Desalination in the Western United States, NREL Technical Report (2015)

Energy Consumption and Water Production Cost of Conventional and Renewable-Energy-Powered Desalination Processes, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews (2013)

Flexible Water Infrastructure

NREL evaluates the flexibility of water infrastructure and water treatment technologies to provide essential services to the electric grid. This flexibility in load and generation can help reduce energy costs for water facilities while improving grid reliability.   

Key Staff

Clayton Barrows, Jennifer Daw, Elaine Hale, Jordan Macknick, Ariel Miara, Bethany Sparn, Greg Stark


Opportunities and Barriers for Renewable and Distributed Energy Resource Development at Drinking Water and Wastewater Utilities, Report No. 4625, The Water Research Foundation report (2019)

The Value of Demand Response in Florida, The Electricity Journal (2017)

Opportunities and Challenges for Water and Wastewater Industries To Provide Exchangeable Services, NREL Technical Report (2015)

Multiscale System Co-Optimization

NREL designs and evaluates co-optimized energy-water systems for buildings, campuses, cities, military bases, regions, and remote communities. We have developed multiple research tools to evaluate trade-offs at these scales.

Key Staff

Jennifer Daw, Alicen Kandt, Jordan Macknick, Gail Mosey, Dan Olis, Greg Stark, Sherry Stout, Adam Warren


Energy-Water Microgrid Opportunity Analysis at the University of Arizona’s Biosphere 2 Facility, NREL Technical Report (2018)

The Economic Potential of Two Nuclear-Renewable Hybrid Energy Systems, NREL Technical Report (2016)

Water Power Technologies

NREL evaluates energy generation opportunities from water power technologies such as conventional hydropower, pumped hydro storage, and marine hydrokinetic technologies.

Key Staff

Elise DeGeorge, Al LiVecchi, Dale "Scott" Jenne, Greg Stark

Emerging Areas

  • Cyber security
  • Advanced communications and controls


Jennifer Daw

Strategy, Policy, and Implementation Group Manager