Portuguese water utility group Águas de Portugal serves some eight million people around the country and is implementing a strategic initiative to improve its energy efficiency. Nuno Brôco is director of engineering at the group’s services company and will be speaking at the WEX Global event taking place in the country’s capital, Lisbon, in March. Keith Hayward spoke with him and reports here on the energy efficiency work.
The term water-energy nexus captures the link between water and energy. This makes the link sound like something abstract, but it is very real. In common with water utilities generally, around half of the direct costs of Portuguese water utility group Águas de Portugal (AdP) are energy costs, explains Nuno Brôco, director of engineering at AdP Services. This is particularly significant given the fact that the group directly or indirectly provides water and wastewater services to much of the country’s population.
‘In 2015, AdP Group consumed around 665GWh of electrical energy. This means around 1.4% of the total national energy consumption,’ he says. ‘We spend around €65 million on this energy purchase. This is a major issue for us.’
This prompted the utility to launch a strategic plan to improve energy efficiency, he explains, although there are wider motivations too. ‘We are a public company, and we have a mission to provide services in a framework of sustainable development,’ he says. ‘From my point of view, this is the main motivation to improve our efficiency.’
There are four main areas of activity within the plan. One is to increase the onsite generation of electricity. The second is to optimise energy consumption at plants. The third is to improve energy procurement and energy supply management, while the fourth is to progress electric mobility for staff.
The plan was launched at the beginning of 2017 and runs to 2020. ‘We have more or less one year of implementation of this strategic plan,’ notes Brôco. There are three main goals, the first of which is to reduce energy consumption by 9%. The second is to increase energy production using either solar energy or biogas. ‘We want to double that production to achieve around 50GWh per year,’ he says. The third relates to energy procurement. ‘We started some years ago improving our energy procurement and energy supply management, and today I would say we have one of the best systems in our country in terms of procurement of energy,’ says Brôco. Building on this, he says the intention is to achieve even greater economies of scale by including other big national consumers in the purchase of energy.
‘We think that is a big challenge,’ says Brôco. The focus during the first year has been on launching actions, but the utility nonetheless has had a year of working with the strategy. ‘We are starting already to have some results in terms of our strategic plan,’ he adds.
Nuno Brôco will be speaking at the WEX Global event taking place in Lisbon, Portugal, March 13-14. Energy efficiency and climate change adaptation will be two of the key themes featured in sessions at the event. For more details, see: http://wex-global.com.
- Portugal, energy efficiency, wastewater and energy, municipal wastewater