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The Water - Energy Nexus

The interdependencies between energy and other resources, particularly water, require the energy sector to look beyond energy, to avoid risking the mitigation and adaptation goals set under the Paris Agreement and within the European Green Deal.

Although the interdependencies between water and energy are well known and have become a subject of increasing attention for the scientific and policy communities, the development and implementation of water and energy policies remain largely disconnected. Water for energy production under increasing drought risks, alternative water sources, energy efficiency for water heating, smart water distribution networks, smart financing of combined water-energy efficiency solutions are topics of growing attention.

The European Energy Agencies have always been at the forefront of the new topics impacting the energy sector. The water-energy nexus approach is becoming critical to energy activities, stakeholders and European targets. Furthermore, it presents new unexplored opportunities of economies of scope and scale, increasing energy savings and return on investment when compared to traditional approaches focused solely on energy.

Nelson Lage
EnR President 2022

Opinion | Manuel Sapiano, CEO of The Energy & Water Agency (Malta)

Traditionally, the Water-Energy nexus was viewed from the “water for energy” perspective reflecting the importance of hydropower and the need of cooling water for energy production.  However, recently, in particular due to the increasing importance of Non-Conventional Water Resources such as the desalination of sea-water as well as the requirements for the treatment of wastewater, the nexus is being increasingly viewed also from the “energy for water” perspective, highlighting the energy needs for producing, distributing and eventually treating water.  This perspective therefore gives increased consideration to the energy footprint of each liter of water which we use in our daily activities.

This high level of interdependence calls for the establishment of stronger synergies between energy and water management policies.  Both sectors seek to ensure security of supply in an increasingly environmentally sustainable manner, whilst optimizing demand management.  Increased alignment can ensure the effective achievement of common objectives.  

Energy Agencies can support the development of this new approach, promoting increased synergies with Water Agencies and thereby contributing to the alignment of key programming frameworks such as the River Basin Management Plans and the National Energy and Climate Plans.

The nexus calls for a more effective use of energy and water resources, in a comprehensive context ranging from the service provider to the user.  Each liter of water which is not produced as a result of better demand management, can be translated into an energy saving, more so if that water is heated before use.

Adopting the nexus concept requires increased investments in water supply systems to optimize energy needs for the production, distribution and treatment of water and minimize losses from the distribution systems.  Furthermore, continuous engagement with water users to increase awareness on the energy footprint of water use can go a long way in ensuring that consumers are aware that their contribution is important and counts towards a positive change.

Manuel Sapiano

Interview | Nícolas González Casares, Member of the European Parliament 

How is the EU parliament addressing the opportunities the interdependency between water and energy brings for energy and water policymaking? 

Climate change has an impact on water security. We need water for the energy system and energy for water availability. We are working on the sector integration of the energy system based on sustainable renewable energy through optimization of all sectors, increasing the sustainability criteria, the energy efficiency, and promoting the long-term integrated planning, among others. The policies to decarbonize the energy system must help reduce its water needs. It is essential for climate adaptation. 

How do you believe national energy agencies can better contribute to new policies that address the interdependency between water and energy?

The European climate and energy policy is at the heart of European action. The transposition of the Clean Energy Package and the development of the Fit for 55 Package, which reflects the objectives of the European Climate Law, requires the national energy agencies to support policymakers and involve citizens, regions, and businesses in decision-making. National energy agencies have a crucial role in making this transition fair and socially beneficial.

Interview | Paula Pinho, DG ENER, EC

Considering the interdependency between water and energy, and the opportunities it brings for policymaking, what is your opinion on how the EED addresses the water-energy nexus?

Quite substantially, I would say. The proposal for the EED recast  emphasises the public sector, incl. water management, with an obligation to decrease energy consumption by 1.7% yearly. The ‘Energy Efficiency First Principle’ is reinforced with an article to lead to cost-effective energy efficiency solutions, including in water. Article 7 EED encourages Member States to explore energy savings via smart technologies leading to water efficiency. This remains in the EED recast. 

What role do you believe national energy agencies can play regarding the challenges and opportunities of the water-energy nexus?

National energy agencies can be pivotal in addressing the challenges related to the water-energy nexus. Energy agencies can support public authorities by creating supporting schemes for the implementation of the most cost-effective energy and water saving measures, on one hand, and designing actions for end-users, on the other. This could involve working on the demand side by creating awareness campaigns for the promotion of energy and water use reduction at national, regional and local level.

EnR Presidency 2022 kick-starts 4 news studies

In 2022, EnR will conduct four studies on Water-Energy Nexus Financing, Green Jobs, Energy Poverty Mitigation and Renewable Energy Communities.

The publications will both highlight how agencies are delivering common European and EnR objectives, learn from other international best practices and also discuss possible next steps, and joint project implementation. The end results will be discussed with relevant stakeholders such as the European Commission, with recommendations on identified barriers and solutions to overcome them. A series of kick off meetings have taken place in March to constitute steering committees which will soon have preliminary results for discussion.

EnR on the Africa Energy Forum 2022

With the growing urgency of the climate crisis, EU-Africa cooperation is one of the priorities of EnR Presidency 2022.  The interdependence between the two continents makes it crucial to promote shared opportunities, to tackle common challenges and to take common action towards a sustainable future. Despite all the existing initiatives, funding and financing can still pose a challenge to      EU-Africa cooperation.

To further promote discussion, EnR will organize a high-level roundtable on the Africa Energy Forum 2022, gathering high level representatives from the EU, Ministries and financing institutions, among others, to discuss EU-Africa green finance for energy cooperation. The event will also pave the way on issues to address at COP 27, which will be held in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, from 7-18 November 2022.

EnR Directory on EU-Africa Cooperation 

EnR Presidency 2022 is developing an EnR EU-Africa Cooperation Directory which intends to showcase a wide range of past and present EU-Africa energy cooperation initiatives developed by, or in partnership with, national energy agencies of the EnR.

The directory will include technical assistance, awareness raising and funding initiatives, all focusing on energy efficiency and renewable energy. Besides a set of factsheets with all cooperation initiatives identified, a detailed analysis will be conducted, providing the main highlights and conclusions, and also recommendations to further promote the role of EnR member agencies in          EU-Africa cooperation fields.

EnR Task Force on the Water-Energy Nexus

EnR is developing the foundations of a new working group on Water-Energy Nexus. Under the activities of a task force of agencies interested in the topic, EnR is conducting studies on innovative models for water-energy nexus financing and needs and opportunities for green jobs, both leveraging on the work carried out by EnR agencies but also best practices worldwide. The task force will also conduct a consumer survey on water-energy efficiency labelling in the taps & showers market to assess perceptions and attitudes which can inform policy making for future mandatory labelling schemes.  

EnR Presidency 2022 will host an online EnR session on World Water Week 2022, focusing on the results of the consumer survey and the importance of labelling for efficiency.

FRANCE | Transition(s) 2050. Decide now. Act 4 climate

ADEME published its forward-looking exercise entitled "Transition(s) 2050. Decide now. Act 4 climate". This research, which ADEME has carried out for two years, with regular discussion with a scientific committee, aims to explore possible ways for France to achieve carbon neutrality in 2050 through the exploration of four scenarios based on the ones of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report. 


HUNGARY| MEKH has deployed the EMIS system to track the energy consumption of public institutions

MEKH has deployed an online interface by adopting the Croatian Energy Management Information System (EMIS) to track the energy consumption of public institutions. This is part of the communication and knowledge transfer between EKONERG Ltd. and MEKH.

MEKH has launched the system at five Regional Educational Centres and at a district municipality in the capital for testing purposes. MEKH is holding trainings and sharing user manual to help them learn using the app.

IRELAND | Launch of National Retrofit Programme 

The Irish Government has a target to upgrade 500,000 homes to B2 Building Energy Rating (BER) standard, by 2030. The National Retrofit Programme, launched on 9 February, offers a new package of supports for homeowners and landlords. As well as continuing to offer free energy upgrades for homeowners most at risk of energy poverty, the programme includes increased grants for all homeowners and One Stop Shops that offers complete project management service, including access to financing for energy upgrades. The new Programme will be administered by SEAI

THE NETHERLANDS | The Mission-driven Research, Development, and Innovation (MOOI) subsidy scheme

As part of the Dutch mission-driven innovation policy to achieve necessary CO2 reductions as set out in the Climate Agreement, the Dutch government has made €81,4 million available through the MOOI subsidy scheme. This subsidy scheme aims to stimulate innovation and CO2 reduction not only in the built environment, but also in the overall electricity network and in Dutch industry.  In 2021, the MOOI subsidy scheme was open to projects related to renewable energy. As a result, five collaborations were granted 13 million euros for their projects to help improve both the generation of renewable energy and the flexibility of the Dutch electricity network. 

The MOOI subsidy scheme is a result of policy to support and encourage multi-annual cooperation between market players and research organisations. The aim of the cooperation is to increase integrated innovations in the entire chain and to accelerate CO2 reduction in the Netherlands. MOOI subsidy scheme is executed by RVO.

SLOVAKIA | SIEA announced 15 million € call for the  construction of green hydrogen electrolysers 

SIEA, as one of the members of the National Hydrogen Association, has been actively cooperating in the preparation of the National Hydrogen Strategy. As part of its activities, it wants to strengthen the awareness of the professionals and general public about hydrogen and thus contribute to the spread of hydrogen technologies in Slovakia.

Recentely, SIEA announced the launch of a call for the construction of green hydrogen electrolysers using renewable energy for its production. 15 million € are available to support innovative hydrogen solutions and to contribute to carbon neutrality of the European Union until 2050.

SPAIN | Spanish Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan
The Spanish Recovery, Transformation and Resilience (PRTR) Plan anticipates the mobilization of more than 140 billion euros in public investment until 2026, with a significant concentration of investments and reforms in the 2021-2023 period. The Plan allocates 39.7 % of investments to promote the green transition, and 28.2 % to the digital transformation. 

As one of the public entities responsible for the management and execution of the Recovery and Resilience Facility funds, IDAE has launched several investment grants programs in the first quarter of 2022, including:  
  • Call for hydrogen pioneer projects (150 million euros).  
  • Call for technological developments in the renewable hydrogen value chain (250 million euros). 
  • Call for innovative R&D storage projects to promote the deployment of energy storage (50 million euros). 
  • Call for pilot projects to promote energy communities (40 million euros).  

UK | Invest in our planet: why water is always worth saving

Every year, on 22 April, EST celebrates Earth Day, a day that calls for everyone to act, innovate and implement climate action now. 

In recognition of this year’s theme ‘invest in our planet’, EST spoke with John Kelly (water efficiency project coordinator) about why water is always worth saving, and how it’s everyone’s responsibility to manage their usage to ensure safe water access for all.

Living in the UK, with modern plumbing in our homes, it can be easy to take for granted that water will be readily available whenever needed. However, many countries are already suffering with extreme droughts and water poverty.  In Sub-Saharan Africa, farmers face increasing uncertainty during annual droughts. Without access to new technologies, many farmers are unable to grow crops year-round and face periods without work. Through EST's work with Efficiency for Access and its foundational initiative, the Low Energy Inclusive Appliances programme, EST is helping to enhance access to solar water pumps, which helps smallholder farmers maintain crop yields during droughts and access groundwater reserves. These appliances can have a transformative impact on rural communities and allow families to access clean water close to home. 

22-23 February 2022, online | Virtual training for the experts of Azerbaijan’s regulatory authority AERA

On 22-23 February, and within the framework of a Memorandum of Understanding signed between MEKH and the Azerbaijan Energy Regulatory Agency (AERA) in November 2021, in Baku, MEKH organized a virtual training for experts of AERA. 

Mr. Pál Ságvári, on behalf of MEKH, and President Dr. Samir Akhundov, on behalf of AERA,  welcomed the participants and highlighted the importance of cooperation and sharing experience. The Hungarian experts shared their experience concerning fundamental issues of energy regulation, presenting the electricity and natural gas infrastructure and markets regulation in detail. The challenges of the regulatory authorities in achieving decarbonisation goals were also addressed. 


28-31 March 2022, Cairo | meetMED Week

Within the activities of the 2nd phase of the EU-funded meetMED (Mitigation Enabling Energy Transition in the Mediterranean region) project, the 1st edition of meetMED Week took place between 28 - 31 March 2022 in Cairo, Egypt, with the theme “Together towards efficient buildings and appliances in the MED”. More than 14 organizations and 100 energy experts from different countries of the Euro-Mediterranean region participated.

MEDENER is the Mediterranean Association of National Agencies for Energy Management. It brings together agencies in the Mediterranean region (some of them are also members of EnR in charge of energy efficiency and the promotion of renewable energy sources, two key conditions for the success of the energy transition.

 30-31 March 2022, Dublin | SEAI Energy Show

Held on 30-31 March, Ireland’s largest sustainable energy event attracted over 2,500 in-person attendees. The 2-day event featured technical demonstrations, seminars, workshops and networking opportunities for policy makers, businesses, consultants and representatives from the energy supply chain.

9-30 March 2022, Berlin | Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue 2022 

The Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue 2022 was held on 29 - 30 March in Berlin. The event is a leading international forum for key stakeholders of the energy sector, where high-level policymakers, industry, science and civil society are given the opportunity to share their experiences and ideas on a safe, affordable and environmentally responsible global energy transition. The 2022 edition counted with interventions from Andreas Kulhmann, CEO, and Kristina Haverkamp, Managing Director, from dena

31 March 2022, Bratislava | First stakeholders roundtable from Green Deal for Buildings project 

The first stakeholders roundtable of the international project Green Deal for Buildings (GD4B) was held on 31 March in Bratislava, with sustainable energy investments in buildings and their connection with the 10-point program of the European Union and the International Energy Agency to reduce dependence on natural gas from Russia and the need for the transformation of energy systems being the main topics of discussion. 

"The need to diversify and decarbonise energy sources is putting great pressure on innovation in use of sustainable energy and to find solutions for Europe's secure electricity and heat supply. In the Green Deal for Buildings project, we are joining forces and we want to provide useful recommendations and experiences from examples of good practice. Our joint effort is to prepare analyzes, proposals and tools that will help all stakeholders, "emphasized SIEA CEO Peter Blaškovitš.

12 April, online & Brussels | CoR Stakeholder Consultation on the Revision of the EPBD 

Aiming to collect inputs for the revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), on 12 April, the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) organized a session on "Making the renovation wave happen though the new Energy Performance of Buildings Directive", where relevant stakeholders, including EnR, were invited to put forward their views on the opportunities and challenges of buildings' renovation.

The Chair of the Buildings Working Group, Rui Fragoso, attended the event, and highlighted the role national energy agencies have to play in supporting the whole building transformation.

10 May 2022, online | EnR webinar: EPBD Challenges and opportunities - From MEPS to ZEB 

On 10 May, the EnR Buildings Working group will organize an internal webinar, which will count with the participation of the European Commission, to present the main highlights of the 2021 EPBD proposal and to promote the clarification and discussion of some of those highlights, especially the ones related with the set up and implementation of MEPS and the achievement of ZEB. The webinar is closed for EnR members and requires registration.

10 May 2022, Thessaloniki | EMOBICITY workshop 

The objective of the workshop, organized within the framework of the Interreg Europe EMOBICITY project, is to present good practices, obstacles and opportunities regarding the uptake of e-mobility for the countries that participate in the project consortium and especially Greece as the host of the event. In parallel there will also be study tours to further exchange knowledge between the participants.

EMOBICITY aims to strengthen the capacities of all key-stakeholders on e-mobility, especially regarding policy making, through workshops, study visits, the production of thematic publishable reports, peer reviews, as well as to raise public awareness by open information events, the use of social media and other communication activities.

10-11 May 2022, Dessau | Workshop on European Heat Transitions

On 10-11 May, the Dutch (PBL) and the German (UBA) Environment Agencies will organize a workshop on European Heat Transitions, in Dessau, Germany.

The workshop aims to bring together the special perspectives and experiences from governmental energy research agencies that advice ministries on the ways to transform the heating sector. The 2-day workshop is organized around four thematic sessions: general approaches to the heat transition;  governing the transition of the heat supply side, governing the transition of the demand side and the role of societies in heat transitions. 

7 June 2022, Nice | Energy audits in the industry: a revision of the EED  

The EnR Industry and Enterprises Working Group will organize a side event at the eceee summer study 2022, open to all the summer study participants, to discuss the cooperation between energy agencies regarding the EED revision and how to implement it to support the resourceful use of energy.

A special focus will be given to energy audits according to EED article’s 8 and new art 11 regarding SMEs and large companies and also Energy management systems. 

14 - 16 June 2022, Madrid | GENERA 2022 – International Energy & Environment Trade Fair

The International Energy and Environment Trade Fair, GENERA 2022, the largest commercial platform for this industry, celebrates its 25th anniversary with the support of IDAE, as well as with the renewed backing of the main agents of this important economic sector.

GENERA is aimed at a broad group of professionals in consultancy, engineering, construction, commerce, industrial energy users, equipment manufacturers and distributors, installers and maintenance companies, project promoters, universities & research centres, prescribers and real estate developers; public administrations and, all professionals related to the world of energy efficiency and renewable energies in the commitment to climate neutrality

23 June 2022, online | Design Challenge Grand Final

Efficiency for Access will host the Grand Final of the Efficiency for Access Design Challenge, on 23 June 2022. Delivered by EST, and with the support of Engineers Without Borders UK, the Challenge is a global, multi-disciplinary competition that empowers teams of university students to help accelerate clean energy access.
The Grand Final will showcase some of the amazing submissions received this year, and include a prize giving ceremony and a panel discussion on 'How can early career professionals influence sustainable growth in the solar appliance sector?’.

The competition has already supported more than 200 students from 30 universities in 14 sub-Saharan African and Asian countries, helping them to develop core competencies and giving them a clear pathway for entering the energy access workforce around the world.

Did you know that...

EnR was created in 1990 by 10 founding members from Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands, Portugal and Spain.

The network works according to a principle of voluntary membership and has neither its own budget nor an administrative structure. The Administration of EnR is in the hands of a Troika management committee with a yearly rotating Presidency and Secretariat.

The EnR Charter that regulates the modes of cooperation between members was signed by the 10 founding members on 8 February 1991, in Strasbourg, France. More recently, on 15 February 2022, an updated Modus Operandi was approved by the EnR members.
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