Increased renewable energy and energy efficiency by integrating, combining and empowering urban wastewater and organic waste management systems


Increased renewable energy and energy efficiency by integrating, combining and empowering urban wastewater and organic waste management systems

The REEF2W project  aims at developing and implementing solutions for increasing energy efficiency and renewable energy production in public infrastructures. REEF2W means to pursue this objective by combining and integrating the relevant public infrastructures of municipal solid waste chain with the waste water treatment plants (WWTP), and by upgrading their input mix and their energy outputs.

Summary of Project Achievements

The project addresses the challenge of developing solutions to increase energy efficiency and renewable energy production in public infrastructure. This problem was solved by combining and integrating the relevant public infrastructure of the municipal solid waste chain with wastewater treatment plants (WWTP). It represented a key point for the establishment of low-carbon communities as well as the implementation of interventions to improve the efficiency of these energy consuming infrastructures. Tools and methodologies were tested through realisation of five pilot cases that offered practical examples of implementations providing relevant feedbacks on their applicability. Based on pilot cases, five regional strategies were drafted, and suitable Memorandum of Understanding were signed by project’s partners and relevant public authorities.

Project outputs provided the target groups with information, tools, methodologies, practical examples, training and assistance to address the efficiency of plants and offer better services to citizens.

Furthermore, the exchange of information and experiences, for instance in the analysis and comparison of legislative regulations and barriers, allowed the drafting of recommendations for policy makers. Last but not the least, the creation of a register of experts available to assist PA and the signature by project’s partners of an agreement assured the duration of impacts beyond the duration of the project.

Major achievements of REEF2W are the use / production of renewable energy in the specific sector, a software tools addressing all the main issues Public Administrators for improving energy efficiency in wastewater and municipal waste infrastructures.

Project Partners realized feasibility studies for pilot demonstration cases, a guide for public administrations with relevant information on the replicability of REEF 2W implementations ana an e-book titled “Sustainable REEF 2W implementation experiences and lessons learnt” whose specific aim was to give a contribution to their wider dissemination among public administrations, sector operators and all potentially interested parties.

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Pilot feasibility studies



Lessons learned from pilot actions and investments

REEF 2W fully achieved its main objective by demonstrating the viability of a strong increase of energy efficiency of wastewater treatment plants and municipal waste treatment plants through the use of already available technologies. The feasibility studies of the five pilot demonstration cases showed that the use of fossil energy of these energy consuming infrastructures can be substantially reduced and that they can even produce relevant amounts of renewable energy to be possibly exploited by users located in the area close to the plants.  This offers the Public Administrators the opportunity of reducing the costs of the waste treatment offering better services to their citizens.

Project’s specific objectives were achieved through a common system of knowledge, offering the conditions for increasing energy efficiency as well as production and use of renewable energy based on REEF 2W systems and the identification of legislative barriers. The Development of regional strategies based on project’s pilots and policy makers involvement offer concrete examples on how to improve wastewater and Municipal waste treatment plants in different situations.

The target was fully reached for the number of institutions adopting new strategies/action plans but impact on some target groups was generally under expectations probably due to an underestimation of the response. Moreover, the difficulty in personal contacts due to the pandemic SARS-COV2 virus also weighed, especially in the final part of the project where the dissemination activities were concentrated. This mixed situation with lights and shadows shows that REEF 2W has the potential for improving its impact even after the termination of the project.

One of the main outputs obtained by the project was the development of a software tool that allow to configure the treatment plant and test the environmental advantage of the implementation of some new technology. To take more advantage from the tool a group of 15 advisors have been formed and they are available to help any PA or multiutility in the evaluation of the potentialities of their wastes for the recovery of energy. The project analysed also the possible energetic interactions between the treatment plant and the neighbourhood community for the exchange of energy.

For sure it is still necessary that these kinds of actions could find the sustain of the local and the national politics, at least at the beginning, to stimulate the market and to push multiutilities to came out from the shell of the treatment and consider the advantage that the recovery of energy from wastes can give to them and to the community.

A widespread circulation of the e-book that collect the examples developed in the project pilot sites could increase the interest for this issue and help to identify some new solution.


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