Acciona Agua leads a european R&D project to reduce water treatment costs by 25%

The LIFE-RENEWAT project aims to synchronise waste water treatment plants with the availability of in-plant renewable energy sources integrated to reduce their energy dependence by up to 30%.

A reduction of dependence on conventional electricity grids would imply a reduction of a quarter of the cost of treated water.

The pilot project is being implemented at the treatment plant in Archena, Murcia, Spain and the technology will be applicable in virtually all waste water treatment plants.

The RENEWAT project (Optimised Renewable Mix for Energy Saving in Waste Water Treatment Plants) led by ACCIONA Agua has been chosen by the European Commission to form part of the Life+ programme, which supports those environmental and nature conservation projects with the greatest potential for development.

The RENEWAT project adapts several sources of renewable energy, such as solar panels and small wind farms, to a waste water treatment plant and integrates them with a smart management system to coordinate the water treatment processes with available energy. This allows for optimally combining these energies in terms of available resources while adjusting water treatment work to the amount of energy being generated at the time, thereby optimising the energy mix supplying the plant. In addition, this smart management system will adjust the contribution of energy needed at each stage the treatment with greater precision, thereby improving overall energy efficiency.

Preliminary studies point to a reduction in energy dependence on the grid in excess of 30%, which will reduce the final cost of treated water by one quarter. This management system will also provide further environmental advantages such as a reduction of GHG emissions (about 45 tonnes of CO2 less each year, the equivalent of more than 1,500 trees per each 100 KW of renewable energy that will replace grid power).

This project is supported by the EU through the Life+ programme and partnered by ESAMUR (Regional Waste Water Treatment  and Sanitation of the Murcia Region). It will be piloted in a waste water treatment plant in Archena, Murcia, and can be replicated in almost all WWTPs, choosing the most suitable mix of renewable sources for each site.

This research project offers an enormous potential for reducing polluting gases, as there are about 16,000 waste water treatment plants in the EU which consume about 10,000 GWh of grid electricity a year, generating yearly emissions of more than 27 million tons of CO2. Applying this technology would avoid spilling into the atmosphere more than eight million tons of greenhouse gases.