Thames Water turns human waste into energy

January 8, 2010 at 1:52 pm

Renewable energy is all the rage at the moment, and now Thames Water has revealed a surprising strategy for saving the environment. It has just announced that it has managed to save £15 million on its annual fuel bills through converting human waste into energy.

The figures are quite extraordinary, especially as many people are unaware that energy can even be generated in such a way. The huge amount of the energy source that Thames Water has at its disposal makes it particularly well suited to take advantage of it. Indeed, it managed to generate 14% of its energy needs for the last year through human waste alone.

The water company deals with the disposal of waste from its 13.6 million customers. One method of generating power involves drying the sewage to form blocks and then burning them. The other method involves breaking the waste down using anaerobic digestion, producing methane which can then be burnt.

Once it has been used for producing power, the sewage sludge can then be used by farmers and developers as fertiliser and landscaping material, so nothing goes to waste. Last year 100% of its sewage sludge was put to use and nothing was sent to landfill.

The practice of turning waste into power is taking place at a number of its plants, and the company is aiming to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020.

The climate change strategy manager at Thames Water, Dr Keith Colquhoun, said that they have cut emissions “by 5% in the past two years, despite grid energy becoming more carbon-intensive”.

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