Energy, Governance and Sustainability

Energy, Governance and Sustainability

The IUCN Academy of Environmental Law series

Edited by Jordi Jaria i Manzano, Nathalie Chalifour and Louis J. Kotzé

This book makes an in-depth and timely contribution to the debate about how to transform our energy governance systems into ones that support a fair, safe and sustainable society. It combines perspectives from leading scholars around the world to provide a global outlook on alternative approaches to energy governance and innovative experiences. Taken as a whole, it offers a unique snapshot of some of the innovative and novel ways in which law can support the shift to sustainable and equitable energy systems.

Chapter 12: Sustainable sewage

Melissa K. Scanlan

Subjects: environment, environmental governance and regulation, environmental law, law - academic, energy law, environmental law, regulation and governance, politics and public policy, environmental governance and regulation


Urban wastewater treatment is an energy intensive process that is typically powered by fossil fuels. Does cleaning up urban waters necessitate such a large carbon footprint? Some leading wastewater treatment facilities are charting a different course with sewage-based renewable energy and a prospect of becoming net renewable energy exporters. Wastewater contains the potential to be a renewable source of energy that simultaneously reduces carbon and energy costs. The biggest source of potential energy is in biosolids in the wastewater, which can be anaerobically digested to make biogas. This chapter will provide three case studies of best practices in reducing the carbon footprint of municipal wastewater treatment facilities, one from Austria and two from the United States. The chapter will describe the innovations made at these facilities and identify several policy drivers that could accelerate this critical transition from fossil fuels to renewable sewage energy.

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