Opportunities and Barriers to Implementing DER/Renewables at Water Utilities


Distributed Energy Resources (DER) are an emerging opportunity that water utilities can use to offset the increasing energy demand and costs for water services. Self-generation of energy may reduce costs, improve system resilience and reliability, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but often faces many locally specific challenges. Renewable forms of DER available to utilities can include organic matter in wastewater, hydropower, thermal heat in wastewater, waste heat from converting gas to electricity, solar, and wind, all of which can potentially generate far more energy than their sites require. 

This webcast summarized findings from a three-year international research project 4625, Opportunities and Barriers for Renewable and Distributed Energy Resource Development at Drinking Water and Wastewater Utilities, to guide utilities, related stakeholders, and policy makers interested in pursuing DER. The presentation addressed opportunities for DER at water and wastewater utilities, the DER regulatory and policy environment, DER risk and success factors, and lessons from DER implementations (case studies). 

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a project partner in the research, will present on existing online tools for utilities to use in planning and implementing DER. The webcast included case studies of energy generation from biogas co-digestion and heat recovery presented by New York Department of Environment Protection and Metro Vancouver, but other energy generation options, and elements of DER resource integration (energy storage, demand response, and micro-grids) will be touched upon. The webcast concluded with a policy action plan formulated from the research outcomes.


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