We're preparing for an energy-efficient future by finding new ways to keep energy use, emissions and costs down – despite an increasing population and demands for more services. We want Greater Sydney to be a great place to live now and in the future. We'll continue to research and invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy.
We make the best use of energy to reduce our operating costs and energy intensity. We use the same amount of electricity each year that it takes to power over 72,000 homes. Treating and pumping water to homes and businesses each day uses a lot of energy. Pumping wastewater away from homes and businesses and treating it uses even more.
We recognise that:
That’s why we're working hard to reduce our energy use by improving our energy efficiency and generating our own renewable electricity. Our programs aim to reduce our electricity use and cost.
We focus on:
By doing this, we can minimise the pressures of population growth and the impact of increasing energy prices on our operations.
We've set a target for net zero carbon emissions for ourselves by 2030, and for our supply chain by 2040.
Most electricity in NSW comes from burning coal. Buying electricity from the grid adds to our indirect greenhouse gas emissions and our carbon footprint. Indirect carbon emissions can be caused by using or purchasing a product like electricity or other supply chain goods.
We have kept our non-renewable (grid) electricity purchases at or below 1998 levels, even though we are:
We want to make sure that every dollar we invest in carbon reduction is cost-effective for our customers. To help us, we developed the Cost of Carbon Abatement Tool.
We use the tool to:
We're reducing energy use by improving the energy efficiency of our processes. Since our program started, we've completed over 46 energy-efficiency projects.
We're now saving almost 13 gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity each year. That's the equivalent of the power used by over 2,200 homes in a year.
Some of our projects include:
Both our Parramatta head office and Potts Hill buildings have 5-star NABERS ratings. They also have 5-star Green Star ratings from the Green Building Council of Australia.
We'll continue to look for cost-effective ways to reduce our energy use, including:
We generate about 20% of our energy needs from our own renewable sources. That's enough to power over 15,000 homes each year. Renewable energy comes from natural resources that never run out. We're a leader in integrating renewable energy generation into our operations.
Here's how we do it.
Through a process known as cogeneration, we turn waste methane gas (biogas) into electricity and heat. This helps power our water resource recovery facilities.
Biogas is a waste product naturally created during wastewater treatment. Bacteria break down wastewater sludge in anaerobic (without oxygen or air) digesters.
We capture this biogas and convert it into electricity using a gas engine that simultaneously produces power for the water resource recovery facility and heat. We reuse much of this waste heat to maintain the temperatures in our wastewater sludge (solid material settled out during wastewater treatment) digesters, keeping the reaction going to make more biogas.
We have cogeneration units at 8 water resource recovery facilities: Bondi, Cronulla, Glenfield, Liverpool, Malabar, North Head, Warriewood and Wollongong.
In partnership with Jemena and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), through a grant, we have started the first wastewater gas-to-grid trial at Malabar Water Resource Recovery Facility. Biomethane is a renewable source of gas. The project can remove 5,000 to 6,000 tonnes of carbon emissions.
We have 3 hydroelectric (water power) generation plants, which include a hydroelectric generator at North Head Water Resource Recovery Facility.
Treated wastewater passes down a large drop shaft on its way to a deep ocean outfall. A hydroelectric generator then captures the energy.
We also produce hydroelectricity from the water supply pipelines from Woronora Dam and from Warragamba Dam to Prospect Reservoir. These hydro power plants use pressure reduction and gravity flow in water and wastewater streams to generate energy.
We'll continue to invest in solar power to help us reach our net zero target.
We've investigated how to use trucked food waste streams to increase the amount of energy generated at our water resource recovery facilities.
This innovation could:
The waste streams we've investigated include:
In 2014, we ran a 12-month glycerol trial at Bondi Water Resource Recovery Facility. This program proved that a facility could receive trucked organic waste and convert it to energy for its own use. The program helped Bondi become our first water resource recovery facility to generate more electricity than it required to run all its operations.
Following the Bondi facility's success, we introduced co-digestion at our Cronulla Water Resource Recovery Facility – taking pulped fruit and vegetable waste generated from commercial premises in the local Cronulla area. It's expected that this material will increase gas production and allow the facility to generate over 60% of its own electricity.
Our next water resource recovery facility to receive food waste will be Liverpool. We were awarded a grant from NSW Government for the co-digestion project. The co-digestion of food waste will increase biogas production and self-generation of energy on the site. This will contribute to reducing carbon emissions in the future.
We see our water resource recovery facilities as potential clean energy generators of the future.
It's possible that some facilities will generate more energy than they use. They will do this by:
In the meantime, we'll continue to:
We provide sustainable water, wastewater, recycled water and some stormwater services to over 5 million people in Sydney, the Blue Mountains and the Illawarra.
Climate change poses potential risks and opportunities for us. This is due to changes in the frequency, distribution, intensity and duration of climate-related events.
Potential risks for us include:
We're well positioned to deal with future climate challenges, and we'll continue to prepare and adapt where necessary.
We've considered the impacts of future climate on water supply and demand planning. With other state agencies, we're addressing this risk by diversifying our water supply including:
More recently, we've assessed the impacts of future climate on our:
We co-led the development of the first national guidelines for climate change adaptation planning for Australian water utilities. The project was a Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA) initiative. A total of 17 water utility partners collaborated to produce the guidelines.
The document provides a decision framework that helps utilities understand and manage climate change risk within their business and start to integrate adaptation planning into their planning and decision-making processes. Information is drawn from the extensive experience of the water industry to identify best practice and provide clear principles to guide the industry toward an organised, pragmatic and defensible approach to adaptation.
Learn more about the WSAA Climate Change Adaptation Guidelines 2016 (1.68MB).
We'll continue to look for ways to improve the resilience of our water and wastewater services.