There are strong interdependencies between water use in agriculture and energy consumption as water saving technologies can require increased pumping and pressurizing. The Chinese Government includes water efficiency improvement and carbon intensity reduction targets in the 12th Five-Year Plan (5YP. 2011–2015), yet the links between energy use and irrigation modernization are not always addressed in policy targets. Here we build an original model of the energy embedded in water pumpingfor irrigated agriculture and its related processes.