Biblical reports show water has been turned into wine.
Now wine is being turned into energy. And it’s Illawarra households and businesses who will benefit from the innovative University of Wollongong research turning food waste into renewable energy.
The Minister for Energy and Utilities Don Harwin dropped by Sydney Water’s Shellharbour Wastewater Treatment Plant on Friday to check out the project adding food waste to sewage through a co-digestion process.
‘’The first stage of research is using waste from beverage production and turning it into additional energy. The project is basically turning beer, wine and soft drink waste into power for NSW homes and businesses,’’ Mr Harwin said.
Sydney Water energy manager Phil Woods said the ability to add food waste or high strength organic waste water, gives the [Shellharbour] plant – the only one of its kind in the world – a bio-gas increase in bio-gas generation.
‘’These giant tanks are like giant stomachs. They capture gas and put it through the generators and produce renewable energy,’’ he said.
Mr Harwin said if ‘’proved up’’, the research project will deliver a trifecta of good news.
‘’Food waste will be diverted away from landfill, which helps to reduce greenhouse emissions,’’ he said.
‘’Producing green energy at the plant keeps its operation costs lower, which will continue to put downward pressure on water bills for customers.
‘’A typical Sydney Water customer is now saving nearly $100 a year on their water bill and projects like this could make even more savings possible in the future.’’
University of Wollongong Professor Long Nghiem said the ability to recover energy from waste water will see treatment plants become bio-generators of the future.
‘’What we are doing is converting organic waste material into bio-gas...so basically generating a form of renewable and reliable energy,’’ Prof Nghiem said.
‘’We have a long term vision to convert our wastewater treatment plant into a bio refinery.
‘’That's our ultimate goal and it will take years to do but I think we are at the beginning and we are very excited for the road ahead.’’