A Water And Energy Solution From A Single Source In Denmark

By Dr. Mark LeChevallier – February 19, 2016 – Comment

I must have Europe stuck on my mind, as my last blog tied into the story of the little Dutch boy, and now this entry focuses on recent news of a water treatment plant in Denmark that is set to become the first in the world to produce 50 percent more electricity than it uses. I was reading about the Egå Renseanlæg treatment plant near Aarhus, which is undergoing a total renovation to install new technology that will transform the facility into an energy producer, expecting to contribute back to the grid 50 percent more electricity than it consumes.

I’ve written before about the inextricable link between water and energy, and how the water industry has an overarching goal to reduce the energy footprint expended by water services. Here at American Water, we’ve focused a lot on pump efficiency, since the electricity we use to pump water accounts for about 90 percent of our carbon footprint. But what is interesting about the plant in Denmark is their use of a form of bacteria to eliminate pollutants from the sewage.

As Jan Tøibner, a spokesperson from the facility said in the article, “organic material is used [by the plant] to filter waste water, with the new form of bacteria we are using, the organic material uses much less energy in cleaning the wastewater.” This essentially means that the waste material can be used to create gas and electricity, while less energy is used in the actual purification process.

Water and energy are two of the most needed resources in the world. Currently, about 75% of industrial water is used for the production of energy, and 8% of energy is used to transport, pump, and treat water worldwide. If more water treatment plants can make improvements like Egå, there could be a wave of moving from not only treating and delivering the world’s most precious resource, but also being energy producers.

The plan for this Danish facility is to act as a demonstration plant, showcasing the technological advances to worldwide experts and decision makers with an interest in energy optimization and energy production. In any event, perhaps this gives me a good excuse to plan a European vacation for the spring!