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Energy Management – Towards Energy Neutral Wastewater Treatment

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Energy consumption is typically the second or third largest item in a wastewater utility's operations and maintenance budget and has been trending steeply upwards in both quantity and unit cost. The recent economic recession has placed additional financial burdens on wastewater utilities as they strive to meet increasingly stringent discharge requirements with aging infrastructure in need of repair and replacement. Energy conservation, on-site generation, and renewable energy are becoming increasingly important to wastewater utilities as energy policy, energy economics, and actions to mitigate climate change converge with the need to meet higher standards of wastewater treatment.

Energy is a cost item that utilities can control through practical approaches and proven technologies. Many utilities are beginning to reduce grid-connected energy consumption at their facilities through a variety of energy demand and on-site energy production measures. Technology advancements combined with operational best practices are bringing into focus the real possibility of achieving energy neutral wastewater treatment. The Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF) is implementing research programs to develop and deploy new practices, technology, and information to help wastewater treatment facilities achieve this challenging but realistic goal of net energy neutrality.

Applying fundamental concepts of energy conversions and net energy balance at wastewater treatment plants, this paper describes the methodology by which the typical net energy gap was determined for wastewater treatment plants in the U.S. The paper addresses the energy efficiency best practices, technologies, and future research required for wastewater treatment plants to close the gap and achieve energy neutrality.
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Keywords: Energy management; embodied energy; energy neutrality; primary energy; secondary energy

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2011

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