Study shows wastewater management technologies can reduce related emissions by half
Increasing energy efficiency through the adoption of readily available wastewater management technologies can slash related emissions by nearly half, according to a new study released by Xylem Inc., a global water technology company. The analysis further concludes that 95% of the electricity-related emissions abatement can be achieved at negative or neutral cost.
Powering the Wastewater Renaissance provides an analysis of energy efficiency in the wastewater management industry and assesses how the global water sector can reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions with existing, proven technologies. The report, which studied the wastewater sector in the U.S., Europe and China, assessed 18 distinct abatement opportunities—from pumps used to transport the water to the blowers used to aerate it to the various filtration systems used to treat it.
“Infrastructure investments today can have positive environmental and economic consequences for decades,” said Patrick Decker, Xylem president and CEO. “Importantly, the pragmatic solutions identified in this report pay for themselves and, in many cases, unlock new capital that can be invested in additional infrastructure improvements. As we address the effects of a growing global population and its accompanying strain on natural resources, the public and private sectors must come together to identify and implement new ways to realize the full potential of a low-carbon economy.”
The greatest investment return and emissions abatement opportunities were found in China, where 100% of the emissions abatement opportunities analyzed could be realized at zero or negative cost. In this region, where the government is actively investing in water infrastructure, more than $25 billion in net savings can be generated with the adoption of high efficiency wastewater technologies. With the addition of the United States and Europe, the savings top $40 billion.
The report notes two levers that would accelerate adoption of highly efficient wastewater technologies. First, new financing models that incentivize investments in low-carbon technologies would assist with the initial higher capital costs that often come with these advanced technologies. Second, increasing the energy efficiency standards of wastewater equipment would ensure broader adoption.
The report concludes, “Now is the time for the industry and all stakeholders in the climate change agenda to work together to overcome these barriers to adopting high efficiency wastewater treatment technologies, which will result in greater productivity of wastewater operations, and a meaningful step forward in tackling climate change.”