Next stop, net zero: Thames Water creates enough renewable energy to cook up a feast

Thames Water has generated enough renewable energy from sewage in the last year to cook 112 million Christmas turkeys, as the company works towards net zero carbon emissions by 2030.

The UK water company created almost 140 million cubic metres of green biogas during the sewage treatment process. This was transformed into more than 300 million kilowatt-hours of electricity, the amount needed to power more than 140 million metres of fairy lights – which would stretch around the earth’s circumference four times.

In June last year, Thames Water announced it is committed to leading the future of energy transition by transforming the way it creates and uses power to become net carbon zero by 2030, with generating renewable power from waste as an important part of this plan.

Biogas is created by feeding sludge, a by-product of the sewage treatment process, into digester tanks where an anaerobic digestion process takes place. The energy produced can then be used to power sewage treatment works, preventing the use of fossil fuels and protecting the environment.

Crossness sewage works in Greenwich was the biggest producer of renewable energy in the last 12 months, churning out more than 18.5 million cubic metres, enough to cook 15 million turkeys, while Mogden sewage works in Twickenham and Beckton in Newham racked up about 18 million and 12 million cubic metres each.

Matt Gee, energy and carbon strategy and reporting manager for Thames Water, commented: “Creating our own clean, green energy is an important part of our sewage treatment process and we’re generating more and more each year. Doing this allows us to power our sites with renewable and eco-friendly fuels, and as we continue to generate more, we want to export it to be used in our local communities.

“This is just a part of our long-term plan to be net carbon zero by 2030, which is a key part of our company-wide turnaround plan to ensure we perform in the way that our customers, communities and the environment expect from us. We know we’ll need to work alongside other companies from a range of industries to ensure we protect the planet for future generations and encourage everyone to look at sustainable and eco-friendly solutions.”

Thames Water has already cut emissions by almost 70% since 1990. As one of UK’s largest water suppliers, which has been producing renewable energy at Mogden sewage works in London since 1930s, is also aiming to protect the planet and its 15 million customers’ water supply for the future by becoming carbon negative by 2040. The company’s plan includes reducing the use of fossil fuels across the business, using solar power and heat recovery schemes, and working with sustainable suppliers and partners.