LIFE NEXUS: What if urban water networks could become a source of renewable energy?

The nexus of water and energy, two vital resources, is becoming critical in cities due to demographic movements, economic growth and an inexorable increase in demand. Water scarcity and the need for low-carbon solutions make it a challenge to deliver urban water services without increasing their impact on the environment.


In this context of clean energy transition, LIFE NEXUS wants to show the potential of micro-hydropower systems for recovering untapped energy, deriving from abundant pressure (water head) or kinetic energy (water flow) in European water networks. LIFE NEXUS brings together partners from Spain, Poland and Lithuania, a valuable cross-border network and is coordinated by Hydro4U project partner CARTIF.


The project will install a Small-hydropower plant at the Porma drinking water treatment plant in the Spanish city of León, integrating Pump-as-Turbine (PaT) technology with an energy storage. When fully operational in 2024, this system will supply the plant’s total annual energy demand.


In parallel, no systematic assessment exists of hydropower potential to produce ‘green’ electricity in European urban water networks. LIFE NEXUS is bridging this data gap with the first inventory of potential locations and existing installations. This already contains 104 sites in 10 different European countries, with the information georeferenced and available through a web platform.


The project is building a broad community of stakeholders linked to water services to help identify new locations for its inventory, via a simple online survey. The inventory will feature industrial locations and irrigation areas, as well as urban sites, to promote the project’s transfer.


LIFE NEXUS is a project funded under the LIFE Programme (Ref. LIFE17 ENV/ES/000252) coordinated by CARTIF Technology Centre.


Author: Raquel Lopez, CARTIF




For more information, visit: LIFE NEXUS website: LIFE NEXUS / Promotional material | LIFE NEXUS (available in EN, ES, LT, PL)