Waste management project LIFE Ecodigestion 2.0 was main topic on circular economy and green energies webinar during “EUGreenWeek”

This LIFE Project seeks to boost the production of biogas and to increase energetic self-sufficiency in wastewater-treatment plants

The new 2021-2027 LIFE programme was presented to participants. It will have a financial envelope of €5.4 billion

 The goal of this event was to share experiences and form alliances pursuing a more sustainable and affordable waste management digestion

Brussels, 04.05.2021- On June 4, water service provider Global Omnium and Finnova Foundation held an online event called “Challenge of circular economy in WWTP for green energy production” within the European Green Week 2021 #EUGreenWeek This event, which is part of the broader LIFE Ecodigestion 2.0 project, addresses two out of seventeen UN SDGs, i.e. SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation) and SDG 7 (affordable and clean energy). Over 100 participants from Latin America, Spain and other European countries attended the event.

The European Green Week 2021 #EUGreenWeek, which was organised by the European Commission Directorate General for Environment, will take place from 31 May to 4 June, 2021, and will focus on the theme “Zero Pollution”. This annual event will be coupled with online events in all EU member states and will address EU environment policies.

This webinar provided the latest news on the promotion of the circular economy in wastewater treatment processes by sharing best practices and examples of waste reuse such as the ongoing LIFE projects Ecodigestion 2.0, Nieblas and Landfill Biofuel.

This workshop was attended by several international and national experts who shed some light on how to turn waste management into a more sustainable and efficient practice. Finnova CEO Juanma Revuelta chaired the event. Finnova had also previously taken part in the Water Start Up Europe Awards together with the Valencian government as part of its commitment towards reaching water circularity. Revuelta encouraged speakers, companies and governments to seek LIFE funding. LIFE is the only EU financial instrument dedicated to the environment. The upcoming call for pilot projects will start on mid-June and will have a financial envelope of up to €5.4 billion.

Revuelta also presented the LIFE Ecodigestion 2.0 project. This initiative includes an automated control system to manage organic waste in anaerobic digesters in WWTPs in order to maximize the production of biogas on demand as a renewable source of energy. For example, this system allows transforming organic waste from the HORECA sector (such as leftovers) into biogas in each water treatment plant, which then can be used to fuel vehicles.

LIFE Ecodigestion 2.0 (€970,000) undertakes to turn biogas into a reliable source of energy to supply green power to industries and companies in order to ensure that the EU’s goal to reach at least 27% of renewable energy in 2030 is met. This methodology is of especial interest for Europe, as there are 18.000 water treatment plants accounting for 0.8% of energy consumption.

Based on these facts and figures, LIFE Ecodigestion 2.0 kicked off on 1 September, 2020, and will continue up until 29 February, 2024. Its main coordinator is Global Omnium Medioambiente, and its main partners are Finnova Foundation and Portuguese consortium Águas do Centro Litoral.

The conference was inaugurated by Jaime Castillo, Institutional Relations Officer at Global Omnium. He encouraged participants and attendees to take the risk and “to get out of the comfort zone” in order to reduce waste production and transform it into energy. “The Earth is not a landfill”.

The wastewater treatment plant in Quart de Benáger, Comunidad Valenciana, took part in both LIFE Ecodigestion and LIFE Ecodigestion 2.0. Paul Granell, director at the plant, said that thanks to these projects, the plant now generates electric energy from biogas produced in the anaerobic digestion process. In turn, this promotes the use of renewable energies and reduces GHG emissions.

Joana Vieria, Wastewater Operations Coordinator at Águas do Centro Litoral, provided an example of good practice in wastewater treatment in Portugal. In Coimbrão, Leiria, her team is currently using software to implement new actions. “We are all now living a period of innovation, therefore we are exploring new projects to optimize circular water reuse”.

Adrián Noheda, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Director at Fundación Finnova, presented the European innovation Council (EIC) programme, which funds up to €15 million in investment and €2.5 million in grants to entrepreneurs and SMEs.

Noheda also fleshed out Revuelta’s initial comments on LIFE grants by adding that, for the first time, there will be two new “subprogrammes” for projects dealing with circular economy and quality of life and transition toward clean energies.

Speaking from the Canary Islands, Saúl Oliva Cabreras, environment project Coordinator at GESPLAN, presented LIFE Nieblas. The objective of this initiative is to minimise the impact of climate change in southern Europe and overseas EU territories as well as demonstrate the capacity of reforestation methodologies to curb carbon footprint. This project is testing fog collectors and new reforestation methods which capture water from fog.

On the other hand, Jaime Ezquerra, R&D project manager in FCC Medio Ambiente, presented LIFE Landfill Biofuel. This Project aims to capture and enrich landfill biogas to produce a biomethane suitable for vehicle use. Thus obtaining a renewable, abundant and self-sufficient energy source”.

International Relations Coordinator at Asociación Española de Abastecimientos de Agua y Saneamiento (AEAS), Gari Villa-Landa, pointed out several challenges that prevent water from being an active component in circular economy. “Is water in circular economy a paradigm or a paradox? It does not matter what we want it to be, as it all boils down to political will”.

Finally, Operations Director at Water Europe, Andrea Rubini, stressed the importance of coordinating all actors in the water chain in order to achieve a real circular economy in this sector. “Although water is a global challenge, it is nonetheless a local issue”.

Green transition is a key topic under Spain’s Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan, which is funded thanks to the EU recovery funds Next Generation EU. This plan will allocate over €3.1 billion to improving and integrating renewable energies; some €1.3 billion to electric infrastructures, intelligent networks and flexibility and stocking facilities; and some €1.5 billion to renewable hydrogen and its sectorial integration.

Couldn’t attend the webinar? Don’t worry, click here to watch it.

About Fundación Finnova

European Foundation for the financing of innovation. Its objectives are to promote private-public cooperation through the technology transfer of low-cost solutions among the best technologies available to address social challenges such as employment, entrepreneurship, the United Nations SDGs and the circular economy. As a staunch defender of innovation, Finnova has been organising the Startup Europe Awards since 2016. This is an initiative launched by the European Comission’s DG Connect.

Finnova’s HQs are located both in Belgium and across Spain – in the Valencian Community, the Basque Country, Andalusia, Madrid and the Canary Islands. It also has branches in Chile and Panama.

www.finnova.eu

About LIFE

LIFE programme is the EU fund dedicated to environmental objectives for the 2014-2020 period. Its main objective is to act as a catalyst for changes in the development and application of policies through solutions and improvements to reach the climate and environment goals. It also promotes innovative technologies in the climate change and environment fields.

The two main sub-programmes are LIFE Climate Action and LIFE Environment.

 https://ec.europa.eu/easme/en/life

About Global Omnium

The company that gave rise to Global Omnium, Aguas de Valencia, was founded in 1890. Global Omnium specializes in water treatment. It provides its services to 5.5 million people in more than 300 Spanish cities, but it also operates in three other continents. Global Omnium is based on a social commitment, and it is made up of centenary companies that have been contributing to the growth of the cities and municipalities in which they work for more than a century. https://www.globalomnium.com/Grupo/Inicio/