This catch phrase summarises the objective of the EU co-funded project POWERSTEP, a project led by research and industry players working to convert sewage treatment plants into power production facilities while still achieving high quality water treatment.

POWERSTEP aims for a full scale demonstration of energy positive sewage treatment plant concepts towards market penetration. We look at converting sewage treatment plants (STEPs) into power production facilities (POWER).

100 years of activated sludge is enough! 

Municipal wastewater in Europe contains a potential chemical energy of 87,500 GWh per year in its organic fraction, which is equivalent to 12 large power stations! However, due to the currently applied technologies and related energy loss at each process step, wastewater treatment in Europe consumes instead the equivalent of more than 2 power stations.

While many operators are targeting incremental energy efficiency towards energy neutrality, recent studies have shown that with novel process schemes sewage treatment plants could actually become a new source of renewable energy, this without compromising the treatment performance. 

Shifting business model makes economic sense

Shifting wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) technology means increasing regions’ and cities’ energy production capacity. Today, about 1% of the EU electricity demand is consumed by WWTPs. This accounts typically for the largest part of the municipality energy bill while municipal wastewater contains a potential chemical energy of 87,500 GWh/year in its organic fraction (equivalent to the output of 12 large power stations).

Breakthrough innovation

In the European context of Energy efficiency for better competitiveness and enviromental protection, POWERSTEP aims for a real paradigm shift in the waste water treatment industry. Thanks to 6 full-scale case studies located in 4 European countries our consortium will merge treatment scheme modelling and design, global energy and heat management, carbon foot-printing, integrated design options,

POWERSTEP aims to demonstrate through a first full scale reference each essential process step to design an energy positive wastewater treatment plan - with the currently available technologies.

Reaching the market 

POWERSTEP is dedicated to go from demonstraton to market penetration thanks to extensive dissemination activities towards policy makers, industry staleholders, decision-makers at municipalities and media. 

Beyond the definition and demonstration of new concepts, a number of actions will be performed to demonstrate the replicability of the approach and to accelerate the market uptake.

The performance of the technologies will be verified along the protocol of the Environmental Technology Verification (ETV) pilot programme. The ETV is a new tool to help innovative environmental technologies reach the market.

All in all POWERSTEP means 15 partners dedicated to Innovation, Business & Environmental performance!


Powerstep partners