Water systems are usually considered low efficiency systems, due to the large amount of energy that is lost by water leakage and dissipated by pressure reducing valves to control the leakage itself. In water distribution networks, water is often pumped from the source to an elevated tank or reservoir and then supplied to the users. A large energy recovery can be realized by the installation of energy production devices (EPDs) to exploit the excess of pressure that would be dissipated by regulation valves. The feasibility of such a sustainable strategy depends on the potential of energy savings and the amount of energy embedded in water streams, assessed by means of efficiency measures. Alternatively, energy savings can be pursued if the water is directly pumped to the network, bypassing the elevated reservoir. This study focuses on the comparison of two solutions to supply a real network, assessed as a case study. The first solution consists of water pumping to a reservoir, located upstream of the network; the excess of energy is saved by the employment of a pump as turbine (PAT). The second scenario is characterized by a smaller pressure head since a direct variable speed pumping is performed, bypassing the reservoir. The comparison has been carried out in terms of required energy, assessed by means of a new energy index and two literature efficiency indices. Furthermore, differing design conditions have been analyzed by varying the pumping head of both the scenarios, corresponding to different distances and elevation of the water source.
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