How can wastewater treatment plants help reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

How can wastewater treatment plants help reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

If the United States’ drinking-and-wastewater facilities reduced their energy consumption by 10 percent, the country could save $400 million and 5 billion kWh annually while reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It is reported that a conventional wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) spends approximately 25-40% of its operating costs on energy consumption.

The EPA therefore recommends wastewater networks and treatment processes be monitored closely to better understand the causes of energy consumption and emissions. Monitoring solutions, such as Kando’s Clear Upstream, deliver actionable network intelligence to utilities, enabling them to lower WWTP OPEX by allowing users to better understand and control wastewater conditions.

WWTP energy consumption stems largely from the intensive aeration processes needed to break down influent loads, but this is far from the only emission source. The loads themselves, for example, release methane, adding directly to GHG emissions. Currently, existing network source control efforts rely mainly on laborious and expensive sampling programs that can miss heavy loads, as sampling is conducted only intermittently. The EPA’s 7-step Energy Efficiency program describes the essential processes for reducing energy consumption in wastewater management. Step 6 recommends monitoring and measuring the network. When the water management team can oversee the loads coming towards the plant and receive targeted network insights, they can then make informed operational decisions. This intelligence can help them adjust water treatment to suit influent conditions, optimizing energy consumption and potentially lowering GHG emissions simultaneously. 

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