Urban water networks a source of renewable energy


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

Water and energy are two of the most important resources of the 21st century. In particular, cities are a framework where this water-energy nexus is becoming critical due to demographic movements, economic growth and global change pressures. LIFE NEXUS will show the potential of mini-hydropower systems to recover the untapped energy in existing European water networks.

On the other hand, the Project is creating the first European inventory of potential energy recovery locations. Technical and economic feasibility of new mini-hydraulic projects will be evaluated taking into account the regulations and characteristics of each country.


  • Assessment of the feasibility of a micro-hydraulic generation system located in the Porma Drinking Water Treatment Plant (DWTP) of León (Spain), which will cover the total demand of the installation with renewable energy.
  • Quantify the potential for energy recovery in European cities.
  • Contribute to the targets established by the EC to become a global leader in the clean energy transition.
  • Increase competitiveness and improve the sustainability and resilience of urban water provision services.


  • Demonstration of a micro-hydraulic prototype (35 kW), based on the innovative integration of a Pump as Turbine (PaT) coupled with battery storage.
  • Realization of the first European inventory of the small hydropower potential in urban water networks.
  • Replication of the LIFE NEXUS approach in 30 Followers in Europe.

Expected results

  • Generation of 215 MWh/year of renewable electricity, harvested from the energy currently dissipated at the entrance of the DWTP.
  • 100% Reduction of the GHG emissions from the DWTP. This will suppose 140 t de CO2 equivalent per year of operation.
  • Evaluation of the feasibility of new locations taking into account the specific framework conditions of each country.
  • Transfer project results to 30 Follower facilities.


LIFE Programme

LIFE17 ENV/ES/000252

Programa LIFE

Total budget: 1.158.188€

EU Contribution: 677.720€

Duration: 01/10/2018 – 31/12/2023



PhD. Raquel López Fernández

Energy Division


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