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Application of the DIY carbon footprint calculator to a wastewater treatment works

S Chetty
K Pillay


The provision of water and wastewater treatment services exerts a huge operational cost on public financial resources. A substantial portion of the operational budget is made up of carbon-intensive energy costs. Energy is consumed in this sector in pumping, aeration, motor drives, administration, transportation and in the manufacture of chemicals such as polyelectrolyte, chlorine and ozone. The high electrical power consumption exerts added pressure on the environment in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. In order to manage the energy budget and develop climate-friendly technological options, Royal HaskoningDHV (RHDHV) has developed a do-it-yourself (DIY) Excel-based carbon footprint calculator to estimate the carbon equivalent emissions for a waterworks, a wastewater treatment works or a pumping station. The DIY carbon calculator computes Scope 1, Scope 2 and Scope 3 emissions. The DIY calculator starts with establishing the baseline carbon footprint of a works and shows the relative carbon equivalent emissions for different treatment stages. The next step involves the development of strategies to reduce the carbon footprint. Inherent within a wastewater treatment works is its ability to potentially generate its own ‘green’ energy by using anaerobically produced methane gas as a green energy alternative. This investigation demonstrates how the baseline carbon footprint of a wastewater treatment works can be reduced by considering viable options such as biogas to power generation, process re-design and drives to improve energy efficiency. Results show that the carbon calculator was able to demonstrate the effectiveness of carbon-reducing strategies in this energy-intensive sector. This further implies that the carbon calculator can be used as an additional management and decision support tool to assist an organisation towards a low carbon footprint.

Keywords : carbon footprint calculator, carbon equivalent emissions, greenhouse gas, green energy, Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions, emission factor, sustainability, energy factory