Clarifying and Quantifying Current and Near-Term Groundwater Pumping Energy Use and Costs in California to Improve Energy and Water Systems Reliability
Understanding the relationship between groundwater pumping and energy demand.
This project was completed in 2019. The researchers found that, due to a warming climate, after 2050 there would be a significant increase in groundwater pumping and associated electricity use; some regions will experience a significant increase in groundwater use, such as a 42 percent increase in the Sacramento area by 2050, while other areas will have smaller increases. The researchers also conducted a survey of municipal and agricultural groundwater users to identify barriers to reducing energy used for groundwater pumping. The identified barriers include high initial capital investment, the availability of other more cost-effective operational measures, and the administrative and time intensity burden of incentive programs. The final report for this project is in preparation.
The project is quantifying current statewide energy use and costs attributable to groundwater pumping and is developing near-term projections of energy use and statewide costs. The projections will factor in groundwater demand, groundwater levels, climate change scenarios, energy prices, and obstacles to implementing energy-efficient pumping and groundwater conservation measures. By expanding knowledge of the relationship between groundwater pumping and energy use, the project will enhance the ability of the State of California and irrigation and drinking water districts to coordinate water and energy resources planning. In addition, the project is providing key insights on how to improve groundwater use and pumping efficiency.
Environmental & Public Health
This study is quantifying current and near-term future energy use and costs for groundwater pumping. The study will inform conservation efforts to reduce groundwater use, which also reduces energy demand and intensity. Proper planning and conservation, such as reducing the pumping of groundwater in urban areas, could save 0.6 million acre feet of water per year, leading to annual savings of 120 gigawatt-hours. The team is also exploring institutional, economic, informational, and social barriers to decreasing the energy intensity of groundwater pumping, facilitating the implementation of energy and water conservation strategies.