Generating RNG with Wastewater

Sometimes the latest advances in renewable energy and eco-friendly steps come from the most unlikely sources. A wastewater project in Phoenix has broken ground as one of the larger renewable projects of its kind in the US. The project is based on bio gas, with the premise that the renewable natural gas can then be sold as a transportation fuel.

The project partnered the Phoenix government with a private wastewater treatment company Ameresco. The partnership project takes untapped raw bio gas generated through the process of treating wastewater and then turns it into a renewable energy source. The renewable energy is a successful alternative to other fuel sources, and the sale of the final product turns the project into a profitable partnership.

The industry of transport fuels is quickly facing four main concerns relating to transport energy from the Australian and US perspective.

  1. Transport is the major consumer of oil, over 60 per cent every year.
  2. Many industries have little options other ant relying on high-energy fuels which are non-renewable.
  3. The transport industry is predicting a rise in demand for fuel with increased urbanisation and transport demands by countries like India and China.
  4. It is a finite resource, rapidly reaching the threshold of decline

Turning the industry’s attention to alternative solutions for fuel enables transport companies to start tackling the immense challenge of discovering a solution to the almost complete dependence on a non-renewable fuel source.

So by encouraging projects like what is occurring in Phoenix, both private companies and the wider community benefit from the partnership and its approach to responsible environmental stewardship. Projects like this one, also have the added benefit of fueling local economic growth, while at the same time reducing overall operating costs.

Not only is transportation fuel one of the bigger problems when talking about global environmental damage and sustainability, but it also illustrates the financial advantages for partnering with private companies on these management challenges.

In Phoenix, the private company Ameresco will design, build, operate and maintain the facility that transforms wastewater bio gas to energy. The wastewater plant, however, is operated by the local government. The project is expected to generate around $1.2 million in revenue for the local region. Not counting the ongoing benefits to the region in job production and local financial stimulus caused by the ongoing project maintenance and operation.

As demonstrated through this project, the benefits of sourcing alternative fueling solutions can have great payoffs for both private and public sectors, along with the local community. The Australian transport industry is particularly interested in how projects like these will address the challenges that arise throughout their development. With both Australian and the US completely depended on well-developed transport networks, focusing on the experience of our ‘big brother’ can help inform our own policy changes at key stages of development. With the financial implications of a heavy reliance on a finite resource becoming increasing clear, it is important to look at other solutions. The example Phoenix provides is a promising future, making it clear that commercial and governmental organisations can work together to make a difference.