This report explores the critical role of water services in the UK's energy consumption and carbon emissions. It is based on a placement facilitated by the Energy SHINES project.

Author: Hannah Mottram, University of Sheffield


The escalating demand for water places additional strains on energy required for its provision and treatment, encompassing abstraction, purification, pumping, distribution, and wastewater management. This policy brief explores the critical role of water services in the UK’s energy consumption and carbon emissions, highlighting the importance of integrated water-energy conservation strategies. It underscores the need for innovative strategies to enhance water efficiency and reduce energy demand across water supply and treatment processes.

Through a case-study of Yorkshire water, staff interviews, examination of its current practices and insights from academic literature, the brief identifies opportunities for reducing energy use in water management. It underscores the need to enhance public awareness of water-energy interdependencies, emphasising shared responsibility for environmental stewardship, and fostering cross-sector collaboration and integrated strategies to achieve water conservation and energy savings. It demonstrates that by addressing these areas, the UK can make significant strides toward its net zero targets while ensuring sustainable water management.

About Energy SHINES

This paper is an output from Energy SHINES, a project delivered through UKERC’s Whole Systems Networking Fund.

Energy SHINES was set up to facilitate partnerships between women Early Career Researchers from energy social science and humanities backgrounds and organisations in key non-energy sectors undertaking work towards net zero.

Access all publications from the project here.