Opportunities and Challenges for Water and Wastewater Industries to Provide Exchangeable Services

Bethany Sparn, Randolph Hunsberger

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


Water and wastewater treatment plants and distribution systems use significant amounts of energy, around 2 - 4% of the total electricity used in the US, and their energy use is projected to increase as populations increase and regulations become more stringent. Water and wastewater systems have largely been disconnected from the electric utilities' efforts to improve energy efficiency and provide energy efficiency and provide grid services, likely because their core mission is to provide clean water and treated wastewater. Energy efficiency has slowly crept into the water and wastewater industry as the economic benefit has become more apparent, but there is still potential for significant improvement. Some of the larger, more progressive water utilities are starting to consider providing grid services; however, it remains a foreign concept to many. This report explores intrinsic mechanisms by which the water and wastewater industries can provide exchangeable services, the benefit to the parties involved, and the barriers to implementation. It also highlights relevant case studies and next steps. Although opportunities for increasing process efficiencies are certainly available, this report focuses on the exchangeable services that water and wastewater loads can provide to help maintain grid reliability, keep overall costs down, and increase the penetration of distributed renewables on the electric grid. These services have potential to provide water utilities additional value streams, using existing equipment with modest or negligible upgrade cost.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages26
StatePublished - 2015

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-5500-63931


  • EE
  • EE
  • electricity grid
  • energy efficiency
  • exchangeable service
  • grid services
  • wastewater
  • water treatment


Dive into the research topics of 'Opportunities and Challenges for Water and Wastewater Industries to Provide Exchangeable Services'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this