Hydrogen-Energy-Water Nexus

Energy-Water Nexus Research Theme:

Clean energy and water are two essential resources that any society must securely deliver. Their usage raises sustainability issues and questions of nations’ resilience in face of global changes and mega-trends such as population growth, global climate change and economic growth. Traditionally, the infrastructure systems that deliver these precious commodities, the water distribution and power transmission networks are thought of as separate, uncoupled systems. However, in reality, they are very much coupled in what is commonly known as the energy-water nexus.

Water Nexus diagram

This energy-water nexus has been studied predominantly on two levels. Numerous governmental and regulatory agencies have discussed policy options supported by data surveys and technological considerations. At a technological level, there have been attempts to optimize coupling points between the electricity and water systems to reduce the water intensity of technologies in the former and the energy intensity of technologies in the latter. To our knowledge, there has been little discussion of the energy-water nexus from an engineering systems perspective. There has been comparatively little discussion of the energy-water nexus in terms of integrated engineering system for its management, planning and regulation as an interdisciplinary concern.

To address these needs, the LIINES Energy Water Nexus Research Theme has made contributions in three areas:

  • Energy Water Nexus Thought Leadership

  • The Energy-Water Nexus Hetero-functional Network

  • Energy-Water Nexus Optimal Dispatch

Water Nexus Thought Leadership diagram

Key Achievements in Energy Water Nexus Thought Leadership:

Unlike the established smart grid field, recognition of the energy-water nexus challenge is still taking hold. The LIINES has been fortunate to advance this conversation:

Opportunities for Energy-Water Nexus Management in the Middle East and North Africa (2016): This literature-based study, the LIINES discusses some of the recent energy-water nexus trends facing the MENA region and then highlights several opportunities for their management.

The Stabilizing Role of the Energy-Water Nexus (2014): While many may view the energy-water nexus as a coupled challenge, it also presents synergies with regards to stabilizing the ever evolving power grid.

Water Nexus Network diagram

Key Achievements in The Energy-Water Nexus Hetero-functional Network:

Building upon our generalized work in hetero-functional graph theory, the LIINES has also begun to develop hetero-functional models of the energy-water nexus. This has led to:

An Enterprise Control Assessment Case Study of the Energy-Water Nexus for the ISO New England System (2021): Led by Steffi Muhanji, this work conducts an energy-water nexus study of the New England region to show that energy-water resource when managed holistically can provide synergistic benefits.

An Enterprise Control Methodology for the Techno-Economic Assessment of the Energy Water Nexus (2019): Led by Steffi Muhanji, this work describes how an energy-water nexus can be assessed for technical reliability, economic efficiency, and environmental sustainability.

Quantitative Engineering Systems Model and Analysis of the Energy-Water Nexus (2014): Led by William Lubega, this work extended the SysML model to provide a quantitative input-output flows of all power and water flows in an energy-water nexus.

A Reference System Architecture for the Energy-Water Nexus (2014): Led by William Lubega, this work developed a SysML model of the energy-water nexus for a generic region so that it may be readily instantiated for region specific case studies.

Water Nexus Dispatch diagram

Key Achievements in Energy-Water Nexus Optimal Dispatch:

Once we recognize that our already existing energy and water infrastructures are already coupled, we must also recognize the need to optimize their performance. The LIINES has consequently developed several techniques to provide cost-optimal solutions to the provision of water and energy. These include:

The Synergistic Role of Renewable Energy Integration into the Unit Commitment of the Energy Water Nexus (2017): Led by William Hickman, this work demonstrates that as renewable energy is integrated into an energy water nexus, it reduces operating costs, carbon emissions, and water use.

The Impact of Storage Facility Capacity and Ramping Capabilities on the Supply Side of the Energy-Water Nexus (2014): Led by Apoorva Santhosh, this work demonstrates the positive impacts of energy and water storage facilities not just in their own sector but also their ability to alleviate binding constraints across sectors.

Real-Time Economic Dispatch for the Supply Side of the Energy-Water Nexus(2014): Led by Apoorva Santhosh, this work demonstrates the famous “economic-dispatch” problem for the energy-water nexus.

Additionally, we have written several blog posts specifically on the topic of Energy-Water Nexus @ the LIINES.