Wastewater treatment plants are usually packed with industrial-sized aerators, pumps and other machines that usually use a lot of electricity from the grid. But SunPower Corp. developed a solar power system for the West Riverside Wastewater Treatment Plant in Corona, California that is able to generate 1 MW of energy.
Even though this represents only 25% of the plant’s energy needs, it’s a significant approach in terms of a more energy efficient and sustainable future. SunPower uses very efficient solar panels mounted on the T20 Tracker System which is able to follow the sun in harvesting up to 30% more energy.
The wastewater treatment plant is currently handling up to 8 million gallons per day but it could also increase its capacity up to 32 million gallons per day. This will mean that the plant will require more energy. Besides that fact that the population is continuously growing, sewage treatment standards will continue to become more strict and this will require new equipments that will consume even more energy. This will mean that solar, wind and other on-site sustainable energy will become very important.
It is stipulated that future sewage treatment plants will to be self sustaining from the energy point of view. Some companies are already developing efficient processes to use all the resources from sewage plants, such as methane gas or usable water instead of discharging it into the nearest river. A “sewage mole” is able to aerate and dry biosolids which can be used as a soil enhancer. As well bioplastic can be manufactured from biosolids.