More than 30 global experts convened to discuss a vision for future energy performance and a plan to help wastewater utilities become net energy producers at the Water Environment Federation's (WEF) Residuals and Biosolids 2012: Advancing Residuals Management: Technologies and Applications conference that was held last week in Raleigh, NC.
"WEF will continue to move forward with a vision to address, support, and promote energy-positive water reclamation," said President Matt Bond. "This meeting was a first big step toward helping more water utilities become net energy producers while providing vital water supply and management services to their communities."
During the invitation-only workshop on March 28 and 29, the group began to define the water sector's vision for resource recovery and develop a "Road Map to Net-Zero Energy" for use by utilities planning to transition from energy consumers to energy producers. The conference, a well-known favorite among residuals management professionals, was the perfect setting for this type of exchange. The annual event also highlighted beneficial reuse options, science, and technologies currently available to leverage biosolids as a valuable resource.
Although a small number of wastewater plants around the world are already energy self-sufficient and technical research by the Water Environment Research Foundation supports the concept, the potential exists for substantially increasing the number of energy-positive plants. At the event utilities from around the world shared related success stories, such as East Bay Municipal Utility District's (Oakland Ca.) cutting-edge renewable energy expansion project, and participants identified the elements of a road map to help more agencies transform their energy performance.
An executive summary of the roadmap will be released this spring, with a full version for public comment released at WEFTEC 2012 in New Orleans this October. The roadmap will then be pilot tested at a number of utilities before a comprehensive release at the Energy and Water 2013 conference in Nashville in May 2013.
"The Residuals conference surpassed our expectations in terms of attendance and program quality," said WEF Executive Director Jeff Eger. "It underscores the interest residuals professionals have in learning about the latest developments in their field and was the perfect place to discuss taking resource recovery to the next level."
Founded in 1928, the Water Environment Federation (WEF) is a not-for-profit technical and educational organization of 36,000 individual members and 75 affiliated Member Associations representing water quality professionals around the world. WEF members, Member Associations and staff proudly work to achieve our mission to provide bold leadership, champion innovation, connect water professionals, and leverage knowledge to support clean and safe water worldwide.