It takes a lot of energy to deliver safe water, remove and treat sewage, and manage drainage and waterways across Melbourne. We’re always looking for opportunities to improve our energy efficiency and generate more renewable energy from our operations.
Renewable energy powers more than half our energy needs. We generate most of this energy ourselves from hydro-electricity and biogas – a by-product of sewage treatment.
We have nine hydro-electricity plants at our reservoirs which generate up to 51,000 megawatt hours of electricity each year, or one-sixth of our energy needs. The plants generate energy from moving water and feed it back into the electricity grid.
By using hydro-electricity, we can offset the equivalent of 62,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions each year – the same as taking 15,000 cars off the road.
Biogas – converting sewage into energy
Biogas fired power plant at the Western Treatment Plant
Sewage is much more than a waste product. We can generate electricity by combusting biogas, which is captured under covers that are placed over our sewage treatment lagoons.
The Western Treatment Plant uses biogas to meet nearly all of its electricity needs. It generates 71,500 megawatt hours of renewable electricity every year, which prevents 87,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide from being emitted through the burning of fossil fuels. Sometimes the plant produces more energy than it uses, so this excess electricity is exported to the electricity grid to offset usage at our other sites.
The Eastern Treatment Plant uses biogas to power a substantial part of its electricity usage, and most of its heating and cooling. The plant’s seven generators can run solely on biogas or be supplemented by natural gas as needed.
Read more about renewable energy at our sewage treatment plants:
Energy use is one of our biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions. Finding opportunities to improve energy efficiency will reduce our energy consumption.
We’ve already made many improvements, with:
- over 95% of our electricity use audited
plant energy baselines established via improved monitoring
over 100 energy efficiency opportunities identified
annual energy savings of over $1.4 million identified, with more than $700,000 in total potential savings implemented
In 2013 we developed an Energy Productivity Plan, which has a number of focus areas to improve energy efficiency. These include:
resourcing, governance and alternate funding sources
Energy Efficiency Opportunities program participation
energy performance auditing, monitoring, measuring and analysis
benchmarking energy performance internally and externally against others
optimising processes and assets via mathematical modelling
efficient design of processes and assets
renewable energy generation
training, awareness and communications
Energy Efficiency Opportunities program
The Australian Government’s Energy Efficiency Opportunities program encourages large energy-using businesses to improve their energy efficiency.
We are required to participate in the program as we use more than 0.5 petajoules of energy each year – equal to 139 gigawatt hours, 21,500 tonnes of black coal or 15 million litres of petrol. This requires us to identify, evaluate and publicly report on cost-effective energy saving opportunities.