Every drop counts – the water-energy nexus and its relevance across EU policies

Energy and water are inextricably linked, both are essential to all aspects of our society. As an example, the energy industry uses water for producing fuels and electricity, and for storing energy in water reservoirs. The water system needs energy for collecting, pumping, treating and desalinising water. Both energy and water are critical resources that help satisfy basic human needs and contribute to our societal development.

The European Commission's 2050 Long-Term Strategy highlights how climate change and increasing competition for energy and water could undermine security and prosperity, including economic, food, water and energy systems. Meeting the EU decarbonisation targets up to 2050 thus requires us to consider this linkage between energy and water in a different light.

The EU has much to gain from addressing the Water-Energy Nexus across all EU policies, making Europe’s waters more resilient and supporting Europe’s energy efficiency objectives.

Water availability is among the key constraints affecting the energy sector, which currently requires 74 billion m3/year of freshwater, only second to water needs from agriculture. The decarbonisation of the energy system could reduce its water needs, yet water availability will play an essential role in the path towards climate neutrality by 2050.

On the other hand, the EU currently needs 50 billion m3/year for public water supply. The energy consumed to collect, pump and treat that water represents 2.6% of the EU electricity consumption, which may seem a low figure but it accounts for 30-40% of municipal energy bills. The efficient management of water and the deployment of existing energy efficiency technologies and measures can make significant contributions to energy savings and help to achieve Europe's 2020 energy efficiency targets.

Despite the Water-Energy Nexus being evident, water and energy policies remain largely disconnected: water-related directives do not factor in energy performance or energy efficiency opportunities; whilst the current energy regulatory framework does not factor in water.

This session aims at providing an overview of the current and possible interactions between water and energy in all aspects of our society, stressing key aspects such as resource availability and energy efficiency. A high-level and cross-sectoral panel of senior policy decision makers and business representatives will discuss the Water-Energy Nexus, addressing ongoing policy implementations and outlining measures to protect freshwater resources, optimise water use across all economic sectors while reducing energy consumption.

The session will be followed by a Networking Reception.


Deputy Director-General
European Commission - Joint Research Centre
Chief Commercial Officer
Orbital Systems
Vice President, Government Relations
Ecolab Europe
Policy Director
European Alliance to Save Energy (EU-ASE)
Business Development Director
Knauf Insulation
Director General
DG ENVI European Commission
Senior Vice President
Xylem Europe
Acting Director Renewables, Research, Innovation and Energy Efficiency
DG ENER, European Commission