HKV DR Drinking Water

Drinking water treatment in the energy transition

Renewable energies are an excellent alternative for fossil energy, however it has a capricious character. The wind doesn’t blow on demand, and the sun doesn’t shine at night.
This is the reason why the current energy system is changing from a supply-regulated system towards a demand-response system.
In this project, we explore the flexibility potential of drinking water production.
We investigate the inherent flexibility – in energy use – of drinking water treatment plants, and whether this can be used for Demand Response purposes. We perform a literature survey, model-based experiments and forecasting methods for drinking water demand, in order to let drinking water production have a maximum positive impact on the energy transition.

The literature survey showed there is a knowledge gap concerning the effect of variable drinking water production speeds can have on the produced drinking water’s quality. One reason is that there never was any practical reason to explore ways of exploiting the flexibility in treatment plants. Although there is also little research on improving cost-effectiveness of treatment plants, due to the relatively low production costs. The majority of the focus of cost effectiveness lies on distribution of drinking water, which can have a significant energy use. The environmental impact of drinking water treatment processes is limited, making large investments in improving the environmental impact unlikely.
The model-based study shows that limiting discharge variations of a single ‘production street’ in a treatment plants has limited consequences for the profitability of the exploitation of flexibility.

For the water companies it seems that, for now,  the most profitable way of assisting the energy transition is by forecasting energy use in order to purchase electricity on a sustainable market.