Guest Column | July 20, 2009

Article: Energy Opportunities In Wastewater And Biosolids

biosolids

By Glenn Reinhardt, WERF Executive Director

The energy potential contained in wastewater and biosolids exceeds by ten times the energy used to treat it, and can potentially meet up to 12% of the national electricity demand. That's enough to power New York City, Houston, Dallas, and Chicago annually.

U.S. wastewater treatment plants produce only a small quantity of the energy they need. In order to broaden new energy creation, so that every community can take advantage of the opportunities, the wastewater sector must develop and deploy new practices, technologies, and information in wastewater and biosolids management research. The work requires substantial and immediate investments to support President Obama's efforts to ensure that 10% of the United States' electricity needs come from renewable sources by 2012, and 25% by 2025.

Water and wastewater treatment operations have the potential to be net energy producers; they represent 3% of the total electricity consumption in the United States. Wastewater treatment utilities in the United States consume an estimated 21 billion kilowatt hours per year, enough to power New York metro area, including Nassau-Suffolk and Orange counties, for a year.

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