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UK Water-Energy Nexus Workshop

UK Water-Energy Nexus Workshop

Start: Sep 24, 2015 12:00 AM
End: Sep 25, 2015 12:00 AM

Location: Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge

A bridge spanning across a waterfall during the day

The UK’s transition to a highly decarbonised energy regime that is in consonance with GHG emission reduction targets, and climate change mitigation aspirations would require significant changes to the energy system, and the current level of natural resource use for energy provision - in particular water. On the other hand, the impact of climate uncertainties on water resources, coupled with potential future increased demand for water by other sectors of the UK economy may result in water scarcity issues in some regions of the UK. Meeting the water demand for all sectors of the economy under these circumstances could result in significant changes in the water industry including trans-regional bulk water transfers and building of more desalination plants, which are both energy and GHG intensive. However, within the water industry, energy use remains the highest operational cost, thus a further increase in energy intensity of water provision would be an additional burden. 

Besides the current and potential future issues associated with water use in energy provision and energy use in water provision, opportunities also exist for innovative approaches to recovering energy from water, aside from conventional hydropower. These include scaling up of anaerobic digestion from wastewater treatment, water-based heat-pumps and thermal heat recovery from wastewater – all of which could be harnessed to augment conventional low-carbon energy systems.

Addressing the above issues and harnessing the opportunities associated with water and energy interactions require concerted collaborative effort from all stakeholders in the water and energy industry. Such efforts must, however, focus on an integrated, multidisciplinary approach to addressing and framing policies on water and energy systems that reflect the interdependencies and the potential consequential challenges of future risks, and uncertainties, as well as opportunities. The underlying aim of this workshop therefore, is to provide a platform for the identifying and discussing pathways to building resilience into integrated energy-water systems in the UK, as well as to explore opportunities in harnessing low-carbon energy from water systems. This will be accomplished under three main objectives;

  • Identify the main issues associated with the “Geography of water” in the UK and assess the tendencies of potential competition for scarce resources under future stress;
  • Identify the critical interdependencies of water and energy, technological efficiencies and low-carbon futures of the water and energy industry;
  • Explore the innovative opportunities/technologies in harnessing energy from water systems.

The outcome of the workshop will be a white paper (Policy brief) based on presentations and discussions triggered by an initial proposal for an integrated systems analysis of energy and water in the UK.

Workshop Programme

For further information about the workshop please contact Dr Dennis Konadu