Green electricity and green gas
Aquafin is well on its way to making the energy transition, with a carefully designed plan expected to cut consumption by a third and boost self-generated green electricity by a third by 2040. The necessary investment resources are coming from an Energy Fund into which the proceeds of previously implemented energy measures are being poured – a self-refuelling “rolling" fund.
Each year 1% less energy consumption
Although treating waste water has a positive impact on the environment, there is also a downside. Its transport by pumping, its biological treatment via aeration and the treatment of the sludge residue all require large amounts of energy. Investments in equipment such as blowers and mixers that offer greater energy efficiency have already led to significant savings in recent years. These can be further boosted by running this energy-efficient equipment in an energy-efficient manner through improved algorithms and measuring devices.
Via our treatment trending data, we are able to closely monitor which controls are most appropriate to achieve treatment norms with the lowest possible energy consumption.
Aquafin has set itself the target of reducing its energy consumption by 1% a year, based on the reference consumption of all its managed assets. This target was achieved once again in 2021.
As far as gasconsumption is concerned, we have taken a large step towards a fossil free future in the last few years. By 2026, we will exclusively use residual heat to dry sewage sludge, while we still use some natural gas at present. The construction of a sludge mono-processor on the Arcelor Mittal site in Ghent also instantly makes us a supplier of both green steam and green electricity to a highly energy-intensive sector.
Green electricity production
We also produce our own green electricity and this production is expanding year by year. We have already been doing this for years from the biogas produced by the digestion of sludge, a by-product of water treatment.
In addition, many of our treatment plants are ideal sites for installing solar panels, whether on the roof of a building or as true solar parks on the site itself. At the end of 2021, we comissioned our twentieth solar array at a WWTP. This gives us a total installed capacity of over 8,800kWp. Up to 2030, we plan to expand by a further 2,000 kWp each year. Meanwhile, we continue to explore the potential for producing wind energy on our sites. We are doing this with regard to both medium-sized and large wind turbines. In 2022, we will invite tenders for 8 specific locations at which wind turbines with an installed capacity of at least 2 MW can be sited. We are tapping into totally new potential with the first production of biomethane form biogas at our Antwerpen-Zuid WWTP.