Implementing Renewable Energy at Water Utilities

Authors:

  • Bryan Lisk, Ely Greenberg, and Fred Bloetscher

As energy costs continue to increase, reducing energy costs is rapidly becoming a major priority for water utilities. Constraints on new water supply sources, increasing regulations that require energy-intensive treatment technologies, growing populations, and climate change will combine to require that future water demands require proportionally higher energy inputs. To offset the increase in energy needs, many water utilities are evaluating the implementation of renewable energy systems to offset their purchased energy sources and reduce energy costs.

The purpose of this paper is to present the findings for a research project on implementing renewable energy sources at water utilities. This research was performed by Hazen and Sawyer and funded by the Water Research Foundation.

In this research project renewable energy installations at water utilities were evaluated in the United States and Australia. The product of this research are twelve case studies outlining the barriers, risks, benefits, financing, and variety of renewable energy technologies and practices that have been successfully implemented by water utilities. This knowledge will be applicable to other water utilities that are seeking to utilize renewable energy to lower their operating costs. Presentation of these case studies will highlight common project approaches and pitfalls, discuss the power industry’s perspective on water utilities, and provide resources water and wastewater utilities can use to implement renewable energy systems.

Specifically this paper will present the following:
• Typical renewable energy sources utilized in the water and wastewater industry (i.e. solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, etc.)
• Barriers and risks associated with renewable energy systems
• Ways to maximize the value from the energy generated by renewable energy systems
• Procurement and ownership options for renewable energy systems
• Available resources to evaluate the feasibility of implementing renewable energy systems
• Case studies on successful renewable energy installations.

For more information, contact the author at blisk@hazenandsawyer.com.

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