Ford sewage plant’s niff-ty way of producing energy

It’s rather like wind power, but with a subtle difference. . .

People living near Southern Water’s wastewater treatment works at Ford won’t see a turbine or two going up on the old airfield site when the company builds a new electricity generating plant.

No, it’s not exactly wind that will be powering the plant, but what Southern Water delicately describes as “bio-gas”, created during the process of treating raw sewage at the works.

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The company is investing £1m to install the combined heat and power (CHP) plant, using the gas, which would otherwise have been burnt off in a flare, to produce renewable energy.

Power and heat from the plant will be supplied to the works, with any surplus energy exported to the National Grid.

As well as generating electricity, the CHP plant also recovers heat from the engine and exhaust systems via water from heat exchangers. This water is then used to warm the treatment tanks, helping speed up the bacterial digestion of the waste.

Ford will be following 13 other wastewater treatment worksrun by the company, which use “poo power” to generate electricity. It will reduce the site’s carbon emissions by about 3,000 tonnes a year.

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Morné Cloete, Southern Water project manager, said: “Harnessing recoverable energy through the use of CHP plants is just one of the innovative ways Southern Water is helping reduce its impact on the environment by reducing our carbon footprint while also cutting our energy costs.”

The company is spending millions of pounds on schemes to limit its carbon footprint and become more energy efficient, with a target of generating 20 per cent of its energy usage from renewable sources by 2020.

The installation at Ford, which is being carried out by Southern Water supplier Cogenco, is expected to be completed by March, 2013.