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Danish water treatment plant makes history

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Photo: Joe Dyer/Flickr
10:29 CET+01:00
The Egå Water Treatment Plant near Aarhus is set to become the first in the world to produce 50 per cent more energy than it uses after the implementation of new technology in autumn 2016.

The plant is set for a total renovation that will use the new technology to make it a world leader for the conversion of water treatment plants to energy-producing installations.

The new technology works by using an alternative form of bacteria to filter polluted materials from sewage water, Jan Tøibner of the Aarhus Water Board (Aarhus Vand) told The Local.

“Organic material is used [by the plant] to filter waste water,” explained Tøibner. “With the new form of bacteria we are using, the organic material uses much less energy in cleaning the waste water,” said Tøibner.

The advantages of this for saving energy are two fold – the waste material can be used to create gas and thereby electricity, while less energy is used on the purification process itself.

The overhaul of the plant will mark a milestone for energy-efficient water technology in Denmark as well as worldwide. The plant is the first anywhere to produce over 50 percent more energy than it consumes, according to a press release from the Ministry of Environment and Food.

“Treatment plants must move forward from being energy guzzlers to being energy producers, and we have a really good example of this here at Egå. This is an area in which Denmark can enhance and develop its position in eco-technology,” Environment Minister Eva Kjer Hansen said. 

"There is a vision to double exports from the sector by 2025, and to create up to 4,000 new jobs in the water sector," she added.

The Egå Water Treatment Plant will provide a significant contribution to the Aarhus water board's goal of becoming entirely energy and CO2 neutral by 2030, Tøibner said.

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“As a water board, we have two main responsibilities – to supply drinking water and to clean waste water. Supplying drinking water requires a lot of energy, but there is a huge potential in using waste water to produce energy. The new technology will be a huge help in us achieving our overall goal,” he told The Local.

The company plans to sell energy to the heat and energy grids from all its plants by the end of 2016.

Denmark has an overall goal to be fully independent of fossil fuels by 2050. Earlier this month, the Nordic nation set another world energy record by having its wind power account for 42.1 percent of all nationwide electricity use last year. 

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