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Weslh Water bolsters green credentials with clean tariff and EIB loan

Dwr Cymru Welsh Water has signed a five-year deal with DONG Energy to guarantee the energy it buys from the grid will come from renewable energy sources, as it announces plans to increase its own generation capabilities to supply 30% of its energy needs by 2019.

The not-for-profit utility’s sites across Wales and Herefordshire will now be supplied by DONG’s wind turbines to bolster its green credentials, as the company already generates clean energy at over 50 of its sites.

Steve Wilson, managing director of wastewater services at Welsh Water, said: “We are delighted to begin our contract with DONG as it secures green energy for the next five years while offering good value for our customers.”   

Welsh Water’s annual energy bill stands at more than £44 million, which has been reduced from previous levels by its wind, hydro, solar and advance anaerobic digestion assets which meet 20% of the company’s energy needs.

When interviewed last year by Clean Energy News, Welsh Water’s head of energy Mike Pedley said 56 sites were generating renewable energy, including 25 sites with a combined capacity of 6MW of solar.

To aid further reductions, Welsh Water will use a £250 million loan facility recently secured from the European Investment Bank (EIB) to help develop even more renewable energy generation capacity at its sites, reducing its demand from the grid by a further 10% over the next two years.

According to a spokesperson from Welsh Water, the majority of the increase will be due to increased bio-gas yield increases as a result of investment in more efficient digestion processes. Additional solar deployment is also being planned, with the utility said to be in the process of detailing the plans with the aim to start a solar power roll-out by the end of the current investment period (around 2020).

“We’ve significantly increased the amount of energy we generate at our sites over the past few years by embracing technologies such as solar panels, hydro turbines, anaerobic digestion and our first wind generation sites in the past 12 months,” Wilson added.

“By incorporating these sources with the green energy we now receive from DONG, we really are able to make a meaningful contribution to protecting our environment from the effects of climate change.”

The EIB loan will enable the company to deliver its record £1.7 billion investment programme between 2015-2020 to invest in its assets for the benefit of customers and the environment.

Among the planned projects is a £36 million transformation of the Five Fords wastewater treatment works into an innovative energy park - incorporating solar and hydro and the UK’s first project to inject bio-methane gas into the national gas distribution network. 

The company is also developing an advanced anaerobic digestion plant on the site which once complete will use the waste the site treats to generate enough energy to supply around 3,000 homes.

As well as its renewable generating capacity and green tariff with DONG, Welsh Water has also engaged with demand side response by signing up to Open Energi’s Dynamic Demand platform.

Following a successful trial, the utility signed up to provide up to 5MW of demand response services to help manage the peaks and troughs of energy supply and demand nationwide in exchange for a share of the revenues accrued by the aggregator.