Yorkshire Water embraces the sludge treatment market

Yorkshire Water embraces the sludge treatment market

Yorkshire Water is ready to embrace the sludge treatment market as part of an industry-wide effort to drive efficiency, boost resilience and deliver further innovation within the sector.

The sludge treatment, or bio-resources market as it is formally known, is estimated to be worth up to £1.6bn in the UK alone. 

Yorkshire Water currently spends around 10% of its annual operating costs treating sludge, but now it plans to offer more opportunities for third-party companies to enhance how it transports, treats and recycles sludge.

Around 150,000 tonnes of sewage sludge are treated each year by Yorkshire Water, with 69% converted into renewable energy via a process known as anaerobic digestion (this will be 100% by 2020).

Ben Roche, head of energy & recycling at Yorkshire Water, said: “We want to build even more relationships with expert companies operating in the bio-resources market who can open us up to efficient technologies, new recycling avenues and cost-efficiencies that ultimately will help us keep customers’ bills down and make us even more resilient. 

“We already partner with specialists in maintenance, logistics and recycling activities, but want to embrace the market even more to further boost the regional environment and give our customers even more value for money.”

The renewable energy benefits of sludge treatment are helping the firm keep costs down for customers as it has continued to invest in anaerobic digestion in a move which will deliver significantly lower operating costs by 2020.

Ben Roche added: “We recognise that our current plans only take us so far and that is why we want to work with others who can complement our activities to deliver better outcomes for our customers be it cost, resilience or the environment.”

The firm has 11 key anaerobic digester plants across the region which treat sludge by converting into a biogas that is then turned into green electricity which is used to provide the power to operate the firm’s sewage treatment works.

A fertilizer is also created that can be used in agriculture.

The water industry regular, Ofwat, has stipulated that water companies should voluntarily share bio-resources market information by November and do so on a compulsory basis by July 2018.

Yorkshire Water is a subsidiary of the Kelda Group, a Bradford-based FTSE 100 utilities company which also has interests in non-regulated businesses related such as environmental management.