WEF Explores the Future of Renewable Energy From Wastewater

Source: 
Water Environment Federation

Nexus between energy, water and wastewater sectors was the key focus at WEF's energy conference in Chicago

Representatives from the energy, water and wastewater sectors met in Chicago to discuss the future of renewable energy during the Water Environment Federation’s (WEF) conference, Energy and Water 2011: Efficiency, Generation, Management and Climate Impacts.

Avenues for increasing energy efficiency in the water and wastewater sectors, including the broader implications for climate change and adaptation for the water environment, were explored during the well-attended event.

In support of this effort, representatives from several utilities shared their plans for using self-generated energy for their operations as well as the potential for returning surplus back to the grid. Case studies were presented from the East Bay Municipal Utility District in California, the Gloversville-Johnstown Wastewater Treatment Plant in New York and the Strauss Wastewater Treatment Plant in Austria.

Attendees were also inspired by the opening keynote address from Patrick Lucey, senior aquatic ecologist at Aqua-Tex Scientific Consulting Ltd. Lucey shared his insights about the financial self-funding capability of Integrated Resource Management (IRM). IRM focuses on the challenges of integrating water, wastewater, energy and solid waste into a holistic resource management system for a range of municipal, residential and industrial operations.

Other highlights of the conference included focused discussions on related topics such as the need for collaborative efforts to meet water demands by electric power industry, the latest research in generating biofuels from algae, advances in the implementation of biogas production from wastewater solids, micro-hydropower, widespread adoption of best practices in energy conservation at treatment plants, and the pursuit of a multi-organization approach to integrate water and energy policy initiatives.

Conference sponsor ImagineH20—a national non-profit that aims to inspire and empower people to turn water challenges into opportunities—also used the conference to present its second annual Water-Energy Nexus Prize, which recognizes efforts to advance the field of alternative energy in the water industry.

This year’s winners were Hydrovolt for its new hydropower technology that taps renewable energy from water currents in canals and channels around the world, and Black Gold Biofuels for a patented system that converts sewer-clogging fats, oils and greases into biodiesel. The 2011 Imagine H2O water startup prize will focus on innovations that use wastewater as a resource.

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