Smart Pumping for the Dutch water boards

The Dutch regional Water Boards, Waterschappen, are responsible for maintaining safe and secure water levels within their service region. In rainy periods, most water boards need to pump huge volumes of water from low lying areas in order to safeguard people, houses, roads and other economic infrastructure. Normally, the decision to pump is water level driven, in order to maintain water levels within an established range (so called feedback control).

Water boards can save enormous amounts of energy, and thus reduce CO2 emission, by using a smart decision support system. This is also called a Predictive Control Model, and it helps to efficiently steer existing pumping plants, taking into account a variety of parameters beyond water level only, such as:

  • Rainfall forecast
  • Estimates of outer bounds water level (levels to pump to)
  • Water storage capacity in the low lying areas
  • Variations in energy costs (e.g. day and night prices)
  • Estimates of energy surplus from sustainable energy sources (wind and solar energy)

The water boards conducted a joint research program with several pilots to investigate the potential savings of energy and CO2 reduction. The results were promising: The smarter pumping regimes obtained under the Predictive Control Model lead to an average reduction of energy use of 30% and of pumping costs of 20% to 25%. In specific water board regions that count a wider range of variables (tides movement in the target river, locks, etc.), this may increase to 80% pumping cost reduction. Furthermore, this leads to a reduction of CO2 emission up to 38 kton, which is mainly due to the replacement of fossil fuel sources by solar and wind energy. The CO2 reduction is 80% of the current CO2 emission due to the overall national pumping efforts (46 kton per year = 0,12% of the total national CO2 emission). 

Rijkswaterstaat supports this development by participating in Green WIN and sharing the obtained knowledge with local and European partners.

For more information, check out:

  • Rijkswaterstaat
  • Slim malen – energie besparen? [Smart pumping – saving energy?], STOWA report 2019-27, STOWA, Amersfoort, 43 pp. (Dutch)
  • About STOWA:
  • Klaudia Horvath, , Bart P.M. van Esch, Jorn Baayen, Ivo Pothof (2018), Categorization of trapezoidal open channels based on flow conditions for the choice of simple models, La Houille Blanche, Vol. 4, 2018, p. 56-64
  • Horvath, K. et al. (2018), Model-predictive control of a river reach with weirs, Proceedings of 13th Int. Conf. on Hydroinformatics, HIC2018, 1 - 6 July, Palermo
  • Horvath, K., van Esch, B., Vreeken, D., Pothof, I., Baayen, J. (2019), Convex modelling of pumps in order to optimize their energy use, Water Resources Research 55, Vol. 3, p. 2432-2445.
  • Klaudia Horváth, Bart van Esch, Ivo Pothof, Tjerk Vreeken, Jan Talsma, Jorn Baayen (2019), Closed-loop model predictive control with mixed-integer optimization of a river reach with weirs, 1st IFAC Workshop on control methods for water resources systems (CMWRS2019), 19-20 September, Delft.

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