The Global Water Summit was recently held in Madrid with participation from more than 800 of the water industry’s leading operators, innovators and investors.
One of the key subjects was proposed through the following question:
“How long time will it take to make the water industry carbon neutral?”
At the start of the conference, 14% of participants stated that they believed this could be accomplished by 2025. On the last day, that figure had risen to 35%.
In 2019, the Danish government announced its intention to reduce carbon emissions by 70% by 2030.The water industry quickly supported the plan with the promise of 100% climate neutrality by 2030.an ambitious but not unrealistic goal, given that many large water utilities are well into their green transition journey. The “best in class” examples are close to obtaining 100% surplus energy, meaning that they produce twice as much energy as they use to run their own processes. Unfortunately, the Danish law prevents the utilities from using this energy to run their own facilities, forcing them to sell off the energy to the grid – and buy back the amount they need.
The same goes for one of the new trends – heating pumps. A heating pump from a semi-large treatment facility can generate enough energy to heat approximately 5,000 homes. Luckily, the legislations have been updated recently, so they can now deliver heat to the district heating network.
When the Global Water Summit brings up the carbon neutral water sector, it is because wastewater utilisation as a source to green energy is increasingly in focus. And why not flip the script so that instead of "just" cleaning water, the primary function of a treatment plant is to generate and sell energy? Almost all other processes in a community needs energy, and besides contributing to the 2030 ambition, it is good for our environment and for the climate.
When browsing through this edition, you will find that sustainability and climate adaptation projects make up an increasing part of our portfolio, as well as smart, sustainable ways of operating and maintaining water utilities around the world.
And yes, maybe there is still some heavy steps to be taken when it comes to reaching carbon neutrality. But it is not because we lack the means or the technologies. We need the cooperation, and we need the decisions to be made.