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The global water and waste sectors are facing significant environmental challenges with the move to net zero carbon and impacts of climate change. Utilities must now focus on innovation and the integration of digital technologies to mitigate these risks and meet service demand.

To help manage these challenges, leading water and wastewater management solutions company, SUEZ, has released a new strategic plan for 2027, focusing on the water and waste markets.

Launched by the SUEZ Group in September, the plan includes a 50 per cent increase in the company’s research and development (R&D) budget. It also aims to boost investment by €860 million (circa $1.3 billion AUD) in circular solutions for the water and waste sectors over the next five years.

The new strategic plan is centred around improving people’s quality of life on a day-to-day basis through water and waste innovations. This will help utilities in Australia, and around the world, better understand how to combat growing challenges, including flooding, droughts, energy challenges, pipeline leaks and more.

Investing and innovating the ‘smart’ way

One of the most significant developments in the water sector is the implementation of digital technologies such as IoT-connected devices and smart meters. These can increase asset efficiency, improve customer experience, as well as ease communication between utilities and end-users.

SUEZ’s new strategic plan will harness digital technologies to help strengthen solutions for preserving water resources, combating pollutants, recycling, producing green energy from wastewater and reducing customers’ carbon footprints.

The plan also highlights a continued investment in technology that preserves water by detecting leaks in networks, as well as advising users on consumption, behind the meter leakage and providing the utilities a tool to interact with users through mean like gamification.

These approaches will increase SUEZ’s global footprint, leading to improved recovery of wastewater for reuse, energy harvesting and carbon footprint reduction and of course, improving water resilience in markets like Australia and around the world.

Green energies for a green future

A prime example of how SUEZ is spearheading ecological transition is with the Pau Béarn Pyrénées Agglomeration Community. Located in France under a consortium led by SUEZ, the project involves producing renewable energy through the recovery of energy from wastewater.

It achieves this through the operation of a wastewater treatment plant, as well as the construction of methanisation and methanation plants. These facilities work together to reduce biomethane emissions by 50%, playing a key role in the region’s ambitious initiative in adapting to climate change.

This “Biofactory” is helping to develop ten green resources; biomethane, synthetic methane, Biochar, heat, electricity, nitrogen fertiliser, oxygen, green hydrogen, reused water, and vegetable crops.

The project also features two global technological firsts:

“Ultra-dehydration” through hydrothermal carbonisation: Reduces sewage sludge volume by a factor of four. It does this by consuming three to four times less energy than a conventional thermal dryer.

Energy optimisation: The production of synthetic methane from the methanation of carbon dioxide (CO2, a greenhouse gas). This transforms all the CO2 emitted into synthetic methane, a renewable green gas.

The impact on Australian utilities

The new strategic plan and global research and development projects will provide new insights, supporting local utility operations in Australia to implement the most efficient methods of water management under a streamlined operating model. These insights and new models will provide clients with a comprehensive approach to managing their utility assets across their entire lifecycle.

Australia also has strong plans in place to achieve carbon neutrality, and utilities can play a significant role in this by reducing the emissions produced and creating green energy from their wastewater resource. Focusing on developing innovations and new technologies that can support these goals will put Australian utilities one step ahead.

SUEZ ANZ said these new research and innovation projects aim to add value for the company’s clients. “Our strategic plan is about looking holistically at water and wastewater, and how we can revolutionise its management in Australia, supporting our customers in their journey of achieving carbon neutrality,” the company said.

“It also explores how new innovations can deliver long-term value to utility projects, and to the people and communities they serve. Given the impacts of climate change, we also need to be thinking about how to make operations sustainable, and how to optimise the efficiency of both existing and new assets. SUEZ has references and solutions ready to deploy in the local market.”

This all-inclusive approach ties in with SUEZ’s strategic plan, which provides societal inclusion benefits, with investments in skills. It also encompasses ‘Fondation SUEZ’, which supports projects in developing countries that provide residents with greater access to water, sanitation and waste.

By the end of 2022, SUEZ will publish a sustainable development roadmap, which proactively addressed climate, nature conservation and social matters. By innovating the way utilities manage water, SUEZ can help them mitigate the impact of environmental challenges, whilst improving the lives of their communities for generations to come.

This sponsored editorial is brought to you by SUEZ. For further information, please visit www.suez.com/en/australia-new-zealand.

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