Article | April 12, 2016

Energy Efficiency And Emissions Reduction In Wastewater Management

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Energy Efficiency And Emissions Reduction In Wastewater Management

Nearly 50% of electricity-related emissions from the global wastewater sector could be abated at negative cost by investing in readily available technologies.

This report investigates greenhouse gas abatement opportunities from energy efficiency in the wastewater sector. The results of the analysis are compelling:

  • Almost 50% of electricity-related emissions from the wastewater sector in the three regions studied (the U.S., Europe and China) can be abated with existing technologies. Nearly 95% of this abatement can be achieved at zero or negative cost, where savings from energy efficiency would exceed spending on the abatement measure.
  • China has the most to gain in terms of both investment returns and emissions abatement, as nearly 100% of the abatement opportunities examined would be at zero or negative cost, and the total abatement potential is nearly 13 Mt CO2e annually.
  • Extrapolating the volume of abatement in the three core regions studied to produce a global abatement volume for wastewater electricity use suggests that the potential global volume of negative cost abatement is nearly 44 Mt CO2e annually.
  • These financial and abatement results are relatively insensitive to the future carbon price scenarios and to the investment discount rate, suggesting that unlocking significant emissions abatement in the wastewater sector is not dependent on technology development, but is solely a matter of accelerating adoption of existing high efficiency technologies.

This study assesses 18 distinct electricity-related emissions abatement opportunities across three core regions: the United States, Europe, and China.