The Water-Energy Connections of the Future

The Water-Energy Connections of the Future

Posted on

Thu, 06/22/2017 - 11:09am
The Tillman Water Reclamation Plant in Los Angeles.

Where will the water of our future come from? In the face of Southern California’s expected climate variability and droughts conditions, the use of recycled water ― water that was previously distributed, used, recollected, and cleaned for reuse ― will quickly increase for industrial, agricultural, commercial, and eventually even residential uses. What will it mean for Los Angeles to transition to a system more heavily dependent on recycled water? Who would produce it? What energy and infrastructure challenges would this entail? 

The California Energy Commission, in concert with the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center, has awarded the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation part of a $1.1 million grant to study the energy intensity of recycled water production, and to assess the sector-specific energy usage based on recycled water projections. Quantifying this energy burden is essential not only for evaluating the tradeoffs between imported and locally generated water, but also for energy grid operators and planners.

As such, we are also assessing the viability of using water infrastructure as a tool for responding to fluctuations in energy availability throughout the day. Currently, any excess energy generated by solar panels and other means often is underutilized. The Luskin Center wants to put the water system to work utilizing that excess power. Using treatment plants to respond flexibly to the available energy will allow the water system to help the city efficiently use its energy surplus. 

The results of this study will inform both water and energy planners in making decisions to increase Los Angeles’s local and regional water reliance by using water to its fullest potential.

 

Where will the water of our future come from? In the face of Southern California’s expected climate variability and droughts conditions, the use of recycled water ― water that was previously distributed, used, recollected, and cleaned for reuse ― will quickly increase for industrial, agricultural, commercial, and eventually even residential uses. What will it mean for Los Angeles to transition to a system more heavily dependent on recycled water? Who would produce it? What energy and infrastructure challenges would this entail? 

Image Caption Text: 
The Tillman Water Reclamation Plant in Los Angeles.