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Human waste used to power homes.

October 6, 2010
Children's toilet in the women's room at the M...
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Human waste used to power homes – Telegraph.

The good folks across the pond are finding unique ways to harness the power of us in order to lessen the reliance on fossil fuels. A great read.

A pilot project run by Centrica in a plant at Didcot sewage works, Oxfordshire, is the first in Britain to produce renewable gas from sewage for households to use.

The waste is stored for 18 days and then turned into domestic gas which will supply about 200 homes with power.

The scheme sees sewage arriving at the Didcot works for treatment, and then sludge – the solid part of the waste – is further treated in a process known as anaerobic digestion in which bacteria break down the biodegradable material and creates gas.

The gas is cleaned before it is fed into the gas grid, in a process which takes around 20 days from lavatory flush to being piped back to people’s homes.

Anaerobic digestion is already used to create renewable electricity from sewage – with the gas burned to produce power – but this is the first time the biogas has been pumped directly into the grid for use in homes.

The £2.5m project is a joint venture between Thames Water, British Gas and Scotia Gas Networks.

Energy experts believe that 15 per cent of all gas consumed could come from human waste, sewage slurry and food thrown away by households and supermarkets.

It is hoped that if successful the pilot project could be rolled out across the country.

However there are concerns that the investment is not there as it is more expensive to produce renewable gas, known as biomethane.

Gearóid Lane, managing director of communities and new energy at British Gas, said: “This renewable gas project is a real milestone in Britain’s energy history, and will help customers and the environment alike.

“Renewable gas has the potential to make a significant contribution to meeting the UK’s energy needs. Gas from sewage is just one part of a bigger project, which will see us using brewery and food waste and farm slurry to generate gas to heat homes.”

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne said: “It’s not every day that a Secretary of State can announce that, for the first time ever in the UK, people can cook and heat their homes with gas generated from sewage. This is a historic day for the companies involved, for energy from waste technologies, and for progress to increase the amount of renewable energy in the UK.”

Under the proposed Renewable Heat Incentive, which was set to be introduced next April but is currently subject to the Government’s spending review, subsidies would be paid for renewable gas being put into the grid.

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