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Firm Changes Sewage Into Green Energy
SEVERN Trent Water has scooped a top award – for turning sewage into electricity. The Midlands-based water supplier, which runs the Minworth sewage treatment plant, won a gong at the Climate Week Awards for its renewable energy projects – including using methane gas from ‘sludge’ to generate power. Jon Beeson, the firm’s renewable energy projects specialist, said: “The sewage is treated and then put into a digester where it’s heated to around 40C.
“Methane gas is produced and that is put into an engine to produce electricity.”
Sewage sludge is used to power 56 engines at 35 Severn Trent treatment sites around the region, including Minworth which serves Birmingham homes.
The company also grows crops on land in the Midlands, using them to generate energy in the same way.
Mr Beeson added: “As well as sewage, we also use crops of maize grown on our estate in Nottinghamshire.
The site is highly contaminated and has been used for sludge recycling for 100 years, so it’s not suitable for food production.
“We grow the crop, harvest it and then put it into a digester which is effectively composting the crop.
“At a temperature of 40 degrees methane gas is produced and we can use the electricity generated on site or we can export it to the National Grid.” The firm currently generates 24 per cent of its energy from renewable sources and by 2015 it aims to boost that figure to 30 per cent, using wind turbines. In its category, Severn Trent was up against Network Rail who have created the world’s first solar bridge at Blackfriars station in London; Wembley Stadium, which has reduced water and energy use; and the Co-operative Group, which is supporting community renewable energy initiatives from solar panels to biomass boilers.
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By Mary Griffin