Yorkshire Water is to embrace the sludge treatment market as part of an industry-wide effort to drive efficiency, boost resilience and deliver further innovation within the water sector.
Yorkshire Water currently spends around 10 per cent of its annual operating costs treating sludge, but now it plans to offer more opportunities for third-party companies to enhance how it transports, treats and recycles sludge.
The sludge treatment or bioresources market is estimated to be worth up to £1.6 billion in the UK.
Around 150,000 tonnes of sewage sludge are treated each year by Yorkshire Water, with 69 per cent converted into renewable energy via anaerobic digestion – a figure set to reach 100 per cent by 2020.
The firm currently has 11 key anaerobic digester plants across the Yorkshire region. These treat sludge by converting it into a biogas that is then turned into green electricity which is used to provide the power to operate the firm’s sewage treatment works. A fertilizer is also created that is used in agriculture.
Ben Roche, Head of Energy & Recycling at Yorkshire Water, said: “We want to build even more relationships with expert companies operating in the bioresources market who can open us up to efficient technologies, new recycling avenues and cost efficiencies that ultimately will help us keep customers’ bills down and make us even more resilient. We already partner with specialists in maintenance, logistics and recycling activities, but want to embrace the market even more to further boost the regional environment and give our customers even more value for money.”
The renewable energy benefits of sludge treatment is helping the firm keep costs down for customers as it has continued to invest in anaerobic digestion in a move which will deliver significantly lower operating costs by 2020.
“We recognise that our current plans only take us so far and that is why we want to work with others who can complement our activities to deliver better outcomes for our customers,” added Roche, “be it cost, resilience or the environment.”
The water industry regular, Ofwat, has stipulated that water companies should voluntarily share bioresources market information by November and do so on a compulsory basis by July 2018.