Waste-to-energy study to investigate power of sewage

Unitywater is investigating the hidden power of sewage with a waste-to-energy feasibility study supported by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

The company will assess the commercial viability of converting its Kawana sewage treatment facility on the Sunshine Coast to produce biogas and electricity from various waste sources.

“I believe we are at a crucial time in the evolution of Unitywater where we are seeking to embrace smarter and more sustainable power generation options into the future,” Unitywater CEO George Theo said.

“This is a priority for Unitywater because energy is one of our biggest costs and at the same time we want to reduce the impact we have on the environment.

“The exciting thing about this feasibility study is its potential to deliver practical benefits and learning, not only for Unitywater but the water industry as a whole.

“We will thoroughly investigate a concept that is scale-able and one which could be adopted by other water utilities. We are pleased to be working together with ARENA to share this knowledge.”

The study is unique in that it will investigate several waste streams, including captured and treated sewage and other wastes such as fats, oils and greases from industry and businesses like restaurants and cafes.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said the project was part of ARENA’s efforts to investigate the role bioenergy might play in accelerating Australia’s shift to renewable energy.

“We think there is huge potential to tap into different waste sources to produce clean sustainable, energy,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australia produces around 40 million tonnes of waste annually and more than half of this is organic. The majority is unexploited, ending up in the sewer or sent to landfill.

“This study will uncover options for sewage treatment plants around Australia, particularly in regional areas, to turn this unused waste into electricity.”

ARENA is providing $296,000 funding towards the $697,000 study, which is scheduled for completion by mid-2017.