As climate change and GHG emissions continue to intensify – how can the world’s most valuable resource transition towards a net zero water economy?

Ahead of the World Water-Tech North America Summit in Los Angeles this September, four influential leaders from ABB, Anaergia, Evoqua Water Technologies and the Philadelphia Water Department reveal the critical challenges facing the water industry and how we can implement viable business models for a carbon neutral future.

Treating, distributing, and collecting water and wastewater is an energy-intensive process that can vary depending on weather and precipitation patterns. Further, regulatory impacts can require changes to treatment processes or other adjustments to facility operations that can cause energy needs to change. The water industry can be more carbon neutral by increasing the energy efficiency of existing systems and strategically planning to offset the impacts of carbon emissions-intensive processes.

Snehal Desai, Exec VP: Chief Growth & Sustainability Officer, EVOQUA WATER TECHNOLOGIES
Water is the primary medium through which we will see the effects of climate change via less predictable water availability, increased flooding, and exacerbated water scarcity. There is also a lack of infrastructure; what we have in place was not built for the water stresses we are witnessing and will see in the future. Additionally, our traditional sources of water may not be sufficient. We will have to develop more flexible means of reusing water, taking what was previously impaired and converting it into something usable. This will require more energy-efficient solutions, renewable energy, and circular waste streams.

Vijay Rengaraju, Segment Business Manager, ABB
The water industry is one of the biggest energy consumers, with high GHG emissions and a large CO2 footprint. There are multiple ways to be carbon neutral and that depends on the process, size and location of the plants including:

1. The reuse of digestor gas and the use of renewable energy, like solar and wind as their main source of power, enabling grid independency.
2. Adopt district energy concepts with renewable sources for plant heating and cooling.
3. Plant modernization with high energy efficient products and solutions.

Yaniv Scherson, Chief Operating Officer, ANAERGIA
The food-waste-energy nexus presents the wastewater industry with a once-in-a-generation opportunity to drive carbon neutrality, not only at the facility-level but throughout their communities. Partners like Anaergia can empower wastewater utilities to seize this opportunity while providing the technical expertise and investment to mitigate key challenges facing the industry today – such as grid reliability, aging infrastructure, high costs and limited funding.

Find out how each water company is tackling net zero

ABB: enables a low-carbon society by partnering with customers and suppliers to reduce their emissions and achieve carbon neutrality in its own operations by 2030 with its leading technologies. It’s driving towards carbon neutrality by:

  • Helping customers reduce their annual CO2 emissions by more than 100 megatons by 2030. That’s equivalent to the yearly emissions of 30 million combustion cars.
  • Achieving carbon neutrality in its own operations, it’s continuing to transition to renewable sources of energy, improving energy efficiency across its factories and sites, and electrifying its vehicle fleet. It has currently identified areas that can reduce its CO2 emissions by at least 80% and as technologies evolve, it will continuously seek opportunities to do more.
  • Reducing CO2 emissions in its supply chain, it will work with impactful suppliers. It has cut its own CO2 emissions by 39% since our baseline year of 2019.

Anaergia: makes net zero possible by helping wastewater facilities increase renewable energy for use on or off site. Carbon negative RNG from biogas is one of the only tools to offset – rather than simply reduce carbon footprint and get to net-zero. It provides the tools for facilities to fully meet their own energy needs by improving resilience, reducing grid dependence, and saving money.

Evoqua: is dedicated to developing and delivering sustainable solutions that help customers and communities protect the world’s most valuable resource — water. To manages its own footprint, it recently set a meaningful water goal, in which to seek to recycle and reuse more water than withdrawn by 2035. It’s also setting science-based targets by 2023, with a goal of reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Its working with its customers, employees, suppliers, peers, and investors to meet these ambitious goals.

Philadelphia Water Department: Resource recovery – capturing and reusing the nutrients, energy and water collected at PWD’s Water Pollution Control Plants is a major component of its strategy to target net zero. Capturing and maximizing biogas for energy is a central focus of its efforts to mitigate its impact on climate change. Biogas comprises 15% of it’s overall energy usage and offsets 30,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (mt CO2e) emissions annually and equal to taking more than 6,400 passenger vehicles off the road for one year. As participants in the City of Philadelphia’s Greenworks program, its committed to reducing energy usage and carbon emissions by improving energy efficiency and utilizing renewable energy, including deriving energy from waste streams.

All four experts will be speaking at the World Water-Tech North America Summit in Los Angeles – see the full agenda here.