Electricity is one of our major expenses, accounting for approximately 10% of our operating costs. We are committed to increase our energy efficiency, use renewable energies and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions as we aspire to become carbon neutral by 2030.
How we use electricity
Our carbon emissions
Currently, indirect greenhouse gas emissions account for 70% of our carbon footprint - this includes the energy we use in our offices, buildings and facilities such as pump stations and treatment plants.
The other 30% is made up of direct emissions from sources owned or controlled by us, including wastewater treatment processes, company-owned vehicle travel and non-transport fuel use such as generators.
Understanding our carbon footprint
Understanding our carbon footprint is the first step to reducing our emissions. Check out this handy infographic which explains how we’ve categorised our greenhouse gas emissions.
In our willingness to pay survey, 78% of our customers are willing to pay a little extra to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.
We are focused on using electricity more wisely and looking at different ways to purchase it. We propose to spend more on renewable energy generation to reduce our electricity consumption, operational costs and greenhouse gas emissions. And we’re also investigating other ways to reduce our energy costs and emissions.
What we’re doing
- Exploring opportunities for self-generation and storage of renewable energy, including solar, wind, pumped hydro and biogas from biosolids.
- Investigating options for floating solar on Grahamstown Dam and Edgeworth Wastewater Treatment Works.
- Investigating more sustainable, lower emissions fleet of vehicles.
- Contributing funds and in-kind support to a University of Queensland Water Research Australia PhD project on reducing methane emissions from sludge lagoons.
- Exploring renewable energy generation, exposure to the spot electricity market and energy curtailment, and longer term renewable energy power purchase agreements.
- Installing LED lighting during facility upgrades to reduce lighting electricity consumption.
Case study: Converting waste to energy
Each year we produce about 45,000 wet tonnes of biosolids from our 19 wastewater treatment plants. We reuse 100% of the biosolids through land application for farming and mine site rehabilitation.
Our beneficial reuse program reuses nutrients and organics in our biosolids, but we are looking for new opportunities to increase our resource recovery.
We have explored the relationship between biosolids, energy production and carbon emissions by considering available waste markets, technology and the role that we can take in facilitating and leading regional thinking.
This has included working closely with the University of Technology Sydney’s Institute for Sustainable Futures, and Resilience Brokers. With these partners, we are considering a broader view on organic waste management and have found that, given the waste feedstock available regionally, there is potentially a market for processing of organic waste, generating biogas and electricity in the Lower Hunter.
Waste-to-energy opportunities have the potential to deliver ongoing energy cost savings as well as using our treatment plants to generate clean, green renewable energy.
Climate change action
We need to be resilient to change and deliver solutions that can deal with future uncertainty so that we can continue to deliver safe and reliable water services to our communities.