Growing interest in greenhouse gas mitigation strategies to address global climate change has resulted in the rapid expansion of renewable electricity sources. Increasing energy generation from variable renewable electricity sources, such as solar photovoltaics and wind turbines, has made balancing electricity supply and demand across the power grid more challenging. Some grid management challenges include sharp ramp up needs when the sun goes down, and the overgeneration of renewables when demand is low. In absence of cost-effective, utility-scale batteries, demand response strategies that leverage flexibility in electricity consumption have gained interest as readily available resources to address the temporal mismatch between renewable energy availability and high energy demand periods. The water industry (i.e., water supply and wastewater systems) includes industrial customers that are particularly attractive in terms of demand response potential as they can offer flexibility through large water storage capacities, large interruptible pumping loads, and energy generation opportunities. This study highlights an illustrative case in California to demonstrate the emissions benefits of load shifting in the water industry, followed by discussions regarding potential flexibility opportunities based on the recent literature and directions for future research opportunities to support the implementation of flexibility measures.
Keywords demand response, load flexibility, urban water systems, renewable curtailment, greenhouse gas emissions