The untapped energy potential of wastewater – POWERSTEP participated in the MEP Water Group Public Session

‘It is a fact that wastewater is not sexy at first sight… we believe it is!’, POWERSTEP project partner Boris Lesjean (Innovation Director of Veolia Germany and representing the industry sector) said whilst speaking at the MEP Water Group Public Session at the European Parliament on the 6th of June in a joined communication of POWERSTEP and EurEau, the European federation of water and wastewater utilities.

With the new UN World Water Development Report (WWDR) 2017 ‘Wastewater: The Untapped Resource’ as its departure point, the session hosted a range of speakers who addressed the value of wastewater as being a key component in the circular economy and an important job creator considering related innovations and R&D.

As part of the session, a panel discussion on ‘The Value of Wastewater in the Circular Economy’ was organised, where, alongside the industry representative, representatives from the Danish Environmental Protection Agency, Aquafin NV and the Global Water Partnership were invited to.

In speaking at the panel, Mr Lesjean highlighted the value of the energy contained as organic matter in wastewater: If we estimate the total annual energy potential of our wastewater in Europe, this is as much as the yearly production of 12 large power plants. However, he pointed out that the energy potential is today largely untapped at the European level.

Three steps should be followed to unlock the potential of this resource: (1) improve energy efficiency of our wastewater treatment plants; (2) exploit the energy potential with established technologies; or (3) develop and demonstrate new concepts towards energy positive wastewater treatment plants, as is being done in POWERSTEP.

The POWERSTEP project is demonstrating how, thanks to new concepts and technologies, wastewater treatment plants can feature a positive energy balance and supply more energy to the grid than is used for treatment purposes. This energy can take the form of electricity, heat or green biomethane.

As shown in H2020 POWERSTEP and underlined by Mr Lesjean, sewage treatment plants can be a strong partner for a circular economy transition, but a positive political impulse is needed, with the creation of a level playing field for biogas production through European and national policy-making.

MEP Water Group Public Session 6 June 2017

Read here the full speech by Mr Boris Lesjean.

Download here the PowerPoint presentation of Boris Lesjean.

Find out more about how POWERSTEP is helping to unlock the full energy potential of wastewater and to move our cities towards a circular economy: