European Energy Network (EnR) Working Group on Water-Energy Nexus
ADENE – Portuguese Energy Agency on behalf of EnR – European Energy Network
The Water-Energy Nexus Working-group, to be created under the European Energy Network (EnR), aims to contribute towards the European Green Deal targets and to boost resource efficiency, through the discussion around the interlinkages between water and energy, as key resources and dependable energy and water sources for Climate’s New Era.
EnR Working Group on Water-Energy Nexus (EnR WEN WG) will be established as a formal working group of the EnR network, the European network of national energy agencies, which aims to contribute to the introduction and strengthening of the water theme and the water-energy nexus in national and European public policies, particularly those that specifically refer to energy and energy-climate, and the respective operationalization in the different European countries represented in the network.
This working group will be formally established this year, in the week following the UN 2023 Water Conference, during the EnR Full Members Meeting that will occur in Berlin by 28th March.
The interdependences between energy and other resources, particularly water, jeopardizes climate mitigation and adaptation goals, and is driving the energy sector to look beyond energy. Water faces increased shortages due to climate change, and is critical for energy production, including renewables (eg. hydropower, solar, biofuels) and new energy vectors (eg. hydrogen). Additionally, growing competition for water between the energy sector, consumers and other economic activities requires increasing water efficiency and conservation practices in all sectors, as well as mainstreaming alternative water sources, which in turn require high energy input that should be provided by renewable sources. Water use is also associated to significant energy use (water utilities, industries, buildings).
The European Energy Agencies have valuable contributions to the energy sector. The water-energy nexus approach is becoming critical to energy activities, stakeholders, and European targets. Furthermore, it presents untapped opportunities of economies of scope and scale, increasing energy and water savings, impact and return on investment when compared to traditional approaches focused solely on energy or water.
Therefore, proposed main goals for EnR WEN WG are to contribute and advocate for the Water-Energy Nexus approach under current and future European and national policies on water, energy, and climate action, fostering stronger connection between these policies at EU and Countries levels.
To achieve these goals, EnR WEN WG has the following four main objectives:
• Exchange information | share experiences and best practices on water efficiency and combined water-energy efficiency; Water-energy nexus in renewable energy; Water reuse and alternative water sources (e.g., desalination); Water and energy monitoring; Impacts of integrated approaches to climate adaptation and mitigation goals
• Develop knowledge | elaborate studies, surveys, and guidelines regarding water-energy efficient policies/products/services and to identify bottlenecks, barriers, and success factors, aiming at supporting policy instruments, national authorities, and the European Commission
• Foster opportunities | Joint projects on combined water and energy efficiency, boosting green growth, eco-innovation, and green jobs
• Create a community | promote dissemination of results and conclusions and involve the community, academia and stakeholders in the implementation processes that can result from the working group.
Addressing water and energy together, and their interconnections within the water-energy nexus, is a key driver to attain SDG, as it leads to enhanced impact of combined water and energy savings versus isolated approaches.
Current separated approaches are hindering public policies, instruments, and practices from fully seizing their role and needed impact to accelerate SDG implementation, particularly Goals 6, 7 and 13, where the WEN working group can direct and actively contribute.
Alongside Europe and European Member States bold ambitions towards net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, the new Sustainable Finance Strategy and the EU Taxonomy are in place to accelerate investments in decarbonization.
However, even though water is recognized as a key driver to decarbonize Europe’s energy production and use (JRC, 2019), water efficiency and new water sources lag behind and are usually set aside from energy efficiency, renewable energy, and climate action policies, goals and investments. The time is now to seize water-energy nexus opportunities alongside the needed investments for EU’s climate-neutral ambition and for EU’s transition to a more sustainable financing framework, where sustainable use and protection of water and marine resources are one of the six environmental objectives to be fulfilled under the EU Taxonomy.
The new EnR Water-Energy Nexus Working-group (EnR WEN WG) thus focus its approach on water as a key energy efficiency driver, a critical resource for renewable energy, and a vital part of the energy transition and climate action.
Main actions and outcomes aimed by EnR WEN WG Work Plan 2023-2025 include:
I. Cooperation and advocacy for WEN in energy and water policies&instruments, contributing to SDG targets 6.4., 6.5. and 13.2, through:
• Intertwined task forces with other EnR WG (eg. Labelling&Ecodesing, Buildings, Industry&Enterprises) to introduce water efficiency and WEN indicators in European Energy performance of buildings directive, national Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs), Long term renovation strategies, National Building Renovation Plans, EPBD, EU Industrial Strategy, Recovery and Resilience Facility and national Plans, Multiannual Financial Framework 2021–2027 and NextGenerationEU
• Cooperation on WEN building certification schemes in other EnR countries and related green jobs and green skills (using innovative Portuguese water efficiency standard and rating scheme AQUA+, with trial pilots in other EU countries, in close contact with international examples in the US and Australia)
II. Data and monitoring, contributing particularly to SDG target 13.3., through:
• Quantification and proposal of common global indicators, data and infographics on water efficiency and water-energy nexus
• Observatory on water efficiency and WEN baseline and advances, starting off with Labelling, Smart Financing and Incentives, and Green Jobs
III. Dissemination, contributing to SDG targets 7.a., 13.2., and 13.3., through:
• Dissemination of results and conclusions, engaging community, academia and stakeholders in the implementation processes resulting from the working group activities and findings
IV. EnR studies on new EnR topics relevant to WEN, contributing to SDG targets 6.4., 6.5., 7.a., 13.1, 13.2., and 13.3., addressing:
• Energy for Water and Water for Energy common indicators, challenges and unexplored opportunities, fostering renewable water and energy sources under an integrated nexus approach.
The WEN WG members can include European Energy Agencies, members of EnR, and other interested parties from public and private bodies committed to energy, water and resource efficiency.
Proposal for WEN WG Chair and founding members include Agencies that already participated in the EnR’22 WEN Task Force (listed under “Partners”), with invitations to be sent to Agencies within EnR’22 WEN studies Steering Committees, and all other EnR agencies, as well as other interested parties and relevant stakeholders (listed under “Other beneficiaries”).
• ADENE, Portuguese Energy Agency
• ADEME, French Agency for Ecological Transition
• CRES, Centre for Renewable Energy Sources and Saving
• EIHP, Energy Institute Hrvoje Pozar
• ENEA, Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development
• EST, Energy Saving Trust, United Kingdom
• EWA, The Energy and Water Agency, Malta
• Motiva, Sustainable Development Company, Finland
• RVO, Netherlands Enterprise Agency
• SIEA, Slovak Innovation and Energy Agency
EnR is a voluntary network currently numbering 24 European energy agencies from 23 countries, with responsibility for the planning, management or review of national research, development, demonstration, or dissemination programmes in the fields of energy efficiency and renewable energy and climate change abatement.
It seeks to strengthen cooperation between member agencies and other European actors on all issues relevant to sustainable energy (energy efficiency, sustainable transport and renewable energy). International comparison and information sharing takes place primarily through eight Working Groups, which are also open to relevant non-member organizations. As well as this exchange of information, EnR Working Groups serve as fora for the conception and implementation of successful common projects within the framework of EU-funded programmes, such as the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 Programme.
EU’s goal of becoming climate-neutral by 2050 – an economy with net-zero greenhouse gas emissions (GEE), backed by Member states that are increasing their ambitions and anticipating their own roadmaps to net-zero by 2045 (eg. Portugal, Germany) is driving multiple European policies and global funding to target specifically on energy efficiency and renewable energy sources.
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 at EU and Member State levels (JRC, 2019, Water & Energy Nexus in Europe). In this context, EnR provides a first point of contact for national energy agencies in EU Member States towards an integrated approach of these two dimensions.
EnR dedicates its efforts towards joint activities where its unique character provides added value at both a European and individual Member State level. It provides a channel for pan-European technical support on matters of energy policy, strategy, evaluation, programme design & delivery and marketing communications. Therefore, all the results, recommendations, reports and tools resulting from these working groups always guarantee upscaling and replicability.
As EnR brings together European Energy Agencies, aiming at promoting sustainable energy best practices, it acts as the ideal fora to address and deepen new topics with relevance and impact on these Agencies role towards SDG, as is the case of the water-energy nexus.
The work plan and objectives of the new EnR Working Group on the Water-Energy Nexus will provide significant contribution, and at a very relevant scale, to the global water challenges and objectives of the Water Action Agenda, Water Action Decade and Climate Action Agenda.
SDGS & Targets
Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
By 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all
Proportion of population using safely managed drinking water services
By 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations
Proportion of population using (a) safely managed sanitation services and (b) a hand-washing facility with soap and water
By 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally
Proportion of domestic and industrial wastewater flows safely treated
Proportion of bodies of water with good ambient water quality
Change in water-use efficiency over time
Level of water stress: freshwater withdrawal as a proportion of available freshwater resources
By 2030, implement integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate
Degree of integrated water resources management
Proportion of transboundary basin area with an operational arrangement for water cooperation
Change in the extent of water-related ecosystems over time
Amount of water- and sanitation-related official development assistance that is part of a government-coordinated spending plan
Support and strengthen the participation of local communities in improving water and sanitation management
Proportion of local administrative units with established and operational policies and procedures for participation of local communities in water and sanitation management
Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
By 2030, ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services
Proportion of population with access to electricity
Proportion of population with primary reliance on clean fuels and technology
Renewable energy share in the total final energy consumption
Energy intensity measured in terms of primary energy and GDP
International financial flows to developing countries in support of clean energy research and development and renewable energy production, including in hybrid systems
By 2030, expand infrastructure and upgrade technology for supplying modern and sustainable energy services for all in developing countries, in particular least developed countries, small island developing States, and land-locked developing countries, in accordance with their respective programmes of support
Installed renewable energy-generating capacity in developing countries (in watts per capita)
Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries
Number of deaths, missing persons and directly affected persons attributed to disasters per 100,000 population
Number of countries that adopt and implement national disaster risk reduction strategies in line with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015–2030
Proportion of local governments that adopt and implement local disaster risk reduction strategies in line with national disaster risk reduction strategies
Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning
Number of countries with nationally determined contributions, long-term strategies, national adaptation plans and adaptation communications, as reported to the secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
Total greenhouse gas emissions per year
Improve education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning
Extent to which (i) global citizenship education and (ii) education for sustainable development are mainstreamed in (a) national education policies; (b) curricula; (c) teacher education; and (d) student assessment
Implement the commitment undertaken by developed-country parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to a goal of mobilizing jointly $100 billion annually by 2020 from all sources to address the needs of developing countries in the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation and fully operationalize the Green Climate Fund through its capitalization as soon as possible
Amounts provided and mobilized in United States dollars per year in relation to the continued existing collective mobilization goal of the $100 billion commitment through to 2025
Promote mechanisms for raising capacity for effective climate change-related planning and management in least developed countries and small island developing States, including focusing on women, youth and local and marginalized communities
Number of least developed countries and small island developing States with nationally determined contributions, long-term strategies, national adaptation plans and adaptation communications, as reported to the secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
SDG 14 targets covered
Deliverables & Timeline
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All other EnR European Energy Agencies:
• AEA, Austrian Energy Agency
• SEDA, Sustainable Energy Development Agency, Bulgaria
• DEA, Danish Energy Authority, Denmark
• Motiva, Sustainable Development Company, Finland
• dena, German Energy Agency, Germany
• PtJ, Project Management Jülich, Germany
• HEA, Hungarian Energy and Public Utility Regulatory Authority, Hungary
• SEAI, The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, Ireland
• LEA, Lithuanian Energy Agency, Lithuania
• Klima-Agence, Luxembourg
• Enova, Norway
• KAPE, The Polish National Energy Conservation Agency, Poland
• IDAE, Institute for Diversification and Saving of Energy, Spain
• SEA, Swedish Energy Agency, Sweden
• SwissEnergy, Switzerland
Other interested parties from public and private bodies, organizations, networks, and partnerships thorough Europe, committed to energy, water, and other resource efficiency, including the ones responsible for fostering research & development and technology deployment.