Future-oriented technologies and concepts for an energy-efficient and resource-saving water management (ERWAS)

Water is an irreplaceable resource of human beings. Supply with water in sufficient quantity and quality and safe wastewater management are among the basic needs of mankind. However, water management, from drinking water supply to wastewater treatment, requires considerable amounts of energy.

Das Foto zeigt eine Kläranlage mit Faultürmen. (Torsten Fiedler (Stadtentwässerung Dresden GmbH))
Sludge treatment facility Dresden-Kaditz of Stadtentwässerung Dresden GmbH
photo: Torsten Fiedler (Stadtentwässerung Dresden GmbH)

In the next decades, scarcity of fossil fuels and energy costs are expected to increase. In this respect, Germany is confronted with particularly demanding tasks, as it plans to phase-out of nuclear energy and to transform its energy system towards decentralized and regenerative energy supply. As a result, energy efficiency, regenerative energy production, and smart, decentralized energy management will gain importance, also in the water sector.

The funding measure “Future-oriented Technologies and Concepts for an Energy-efficient and Resource-saving Water Management (ERWAS)” of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is to support applied and practice-oriented research projects covering these issues. The program primarily addresses the areas of public water supply and wastewater management. With ERWAS, BMBF funds twelve joint projects with 27 million Euros. They started in the 2nd quarter of 2014.

The research projects will mainly aim to develop solutions for a more efficient and economic management of energy in water supply and wastewater management. Additionally, researchers will explore possibilities for a better use of existing resources for energy generation in the field of water management and options to buffer fluctuations in the public power supply system. Considering a future, more dynamic energy supply influenced by the availability of wind and solar radiation, researchers will examine how water and waste water treatment plants can play a regulating role as energy source or energy user.

To reach these goals, an interdisciplinary approach in the form of integrated projects is required. Projects must have a distinct practical orientation. To ensure applicability and to make the research and development activities meet the requirements of the users, relevant actors from industry and municipal and state institutions act as project partners from the very beginning. Participation of enterprises, in particular of small and medium-sized enterprises, is of high priority. Due to global changes, such as the increasing scarcity of fossil fuels, progress in energy and resource efficiency is of decisive importance in the water management sector worldwide. Hence, Germany’s cutting edge technology and exemplary solution concepts implemented on the national level will contribute to a sustainable development and to strengthening the position of the German water management sector in international competition.

Last update: 21.03.2019