Background: Although energy efficiency has always been a high priority for water utilities, because of the rapid increase in electricity tariffs over the last few years the issue has become the single most important one in terms of focusing effort to achieve savings from operating costs.

The price of crude oil has risen fourfold since 2000 causing electricity prices to rise. This means many millions of pounds of additional cost have had to be absorbed in the operating cost base by the utilities without recourse to any cost pass through from Regulator.

Study Benefits: The process of developing a comparable performance information and dataset is one way for utilities to improve their mitigation strategies. It is likely that there will be immediate gains in energy savings identified early in the project, as inefficient plant is identified. However, to achieve major savings and reduce occurrences of inadvertent wastage in the longer-term there needs to be ongoing systematic monitoring of energy usage and its comparison against recognised benchmarks.

Ongoing monitoring and measurement means managers can monitor energy usage at a more detailed level. They are able to direct their staff to act in the places where there is evidence that energy is being wasted, balancing the amount that could be saved against the efforts expended.

Objectives: The purpose of this programme is to generate the data to allow a company to answer the following questions:

Energy: how much are we using, where are we using it and how do we compare with each other?

What is the benchmark for energy efficient treatment?

What can be reasonably achieved in terms of further efficiencies on a site-specific basis?

Delivery: This project sets out a programme to both identify and develop water industry best practice in the collection of energy efficiency data and to provide guidance on the use of this data to enable detailed comparability to be achieved. Currently eight utilities from European countries are collaborating in the venture.

This will lead to the creation of a meaningful dataset to illustrate past performance, highlighting specific individual plant and processes where energy efficiency improvement is possible. The programme will facilitate access to an ever increasing dataset which will allow members to target realistic operational savings based on the most up-to-date datasets.

Results: The potential savings in energy use will only be realised once there is a clear understanding of actual energy use. This is something the water industry needs to do in as efficient a way as possible and as soon as practicable. The programme aims to define the most cost effective way of obtaining the required, meaningful information and therefore has additional potential to save costs that might otherwise be expended on inefficient methods.