Sustainable energy

Water for the storage and production of sustainable energy

There is a worldwide drive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and shift to cleaner, more sustainable energy sources. Within the energy transition, water plays an important role. At the interface between energy and water, KWR conducts research into water technologies for purposes of energy saving, generation, storage and reuse.

Water and energy are interlinked

Both the public and private sectors are increasingly working on meeting energy needs more sustainably. Water has a significant role to play. For example, water has a great thermal capacity, making it possible to extract thermal energy from and store it in water – waste heat from industrial processes for instance. On the other hand, both the production and transport of drinking water, the heating of household water, and the treatment of wastewater, all consume energy. Water and energy are inextricably interlinked. The water sector is therefore well positioned to contribute to the energy transition, to improve existing water-energy technologies and develop new ones.

Left: Geothermal heat production, Right: The need for energy storage due to the temporal mismatch between demand and supply.

Energy saving, generation, storage and reuse

KWR and its partners develop new water-energy technologies and strategies to drive the energy transition forward, both within and outside the water sector. We provide the knowledge needed by various sectors associated with water and energy. Our research offers insight into how energy can be saved, generated, stored and reused in any of the sectors where water is consumed, produced or used for the transport of energy – for example, in the geothermal, drinking water, housing, energy, industrial, agricultural, wastewater treatment sectors.

Water-energy technology for sustainable energy

This is a broad research area. The activities in which KWR is involved include:

  • Geothermal heat production: a sustainable heat source produced from deep wells for heating in greenhouse horticulture or in the built environment.
  • Aquifer thermal energy storage (ATES) in the subsurface, sustainably satisfy heating and/or cooling demand in the built environment. This technology allows the use of a wide range of thermal sources for a multiple applications: from harvesting seasonal heating and cooling potential, to harvesting industrial waste and geothermal heat; from a local self-sustained building to a regional district heating and cooling network.
  • Cold and heat extraction from raw water and drinking water.
  • Sewage heat recovery.

Energy-saving in the water cycle

  • Energy optimisations in drinking water production and distribution.
  • Energy-saving in household (hot) water consumption.
  • Optimisation of cooling water conditioning into the future, by reducing the consumption of chemicals and energy.

Exploration of new energy forms

  • Opportunities for the drinking water sector in a possible future hydrogen economy, in which hydrogen is produced as an energy carrier from demineralized water.