Green electricity and green gass
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 in 2020. In five years, we managed to drive down our energy consumption to 5.2% elow the reference value. On top, we want to completely stop using fossil fuels by 2030.
Green electricity production
We also produce our own green electricity. 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. By the end of 2020, we had solar parks on 10 sites, with a total green electricity output of 18.2 MWh together with the biogas engines. As of last year, we inject the part of this that we do not use ourselves (11.4%) into the grid. In the coming years, Aquafin will invest in more solar parks and the first concrete plans are already on the table for the construction of wind turbines on some sites.
Biogas from sludge digestion marks a new direction for us in 2021. Removing CO2 from the biogas creates a fossil-free fuel for CNG cars, for example. This gas, biomethane, can also be injected into the natural gas grid. The first biomethane plant will be built on our Antwerpen-Zuid site and start up in 2021.