Decarbonisation and Engineering: Why immediate action is required.
The climate change crisis has and will show varying global effects. This is anticipated to become more intense on an ongoing basis in Ireland, Europe and the rest of the world. Science and engineering are at the forefront in providing robust technical solutions to help reduce carbon emissions and bring about a low carbon economy within the next 20 years. Immediate action is necessary to realistically apply the proposed green ideals which, to date are being poorly implemented.
Green Deal Initiatives
The EU is demonstrating focused leadership with its green deal initiatives which categorise seven fundamental issues to be addressed on a continuing basis while ensuring that later developments will benefit from constant research and development.
The EU regulations and directives are put in place to drive concepts of the Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP), Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), European Union, Renewable Energy Directives (RED), the farm-to-fork policy, carbon farming, by-product to co-product developments and carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCUS) etc. Without parallel implementation of these mechanisms the climate crisis will not be averted.
WEW Engineering Ltd is one of the leading specialist consultants in Ireland applying the EU directives with a commercial and sustainable engineering ethos. WEW Engineering Ltd are consulting engineers providing designs and management services to incorporate decarbonisation concepts, thereby producing energy efficient processes and operating systems.
These concepts are implemented across water, wastewater and waste-to-energy projects in both industrial and municipal sectors in Ireland, the UK and International markets.
Assess client requirements on one-to-one basis
WEW assess client requirements on a one-to-one basis. Designs comply with Best Available Techniques (BAT) Regulations ((EU) 2016/902 and others) and utilise most cost-conscious solutions. Up to 80% of a project’s success rating follows from the implementation of the concept design, the user requirement specification (URS) and detail design stages.
This assessment process may require bench/pilot studies, on-site audits of working plants and master planning to define future parameters.
The wider trends in design parameters resulting from climate change present a more recent challenge to engineers involved in process, hydraulic and allied design fundamentals. WEW’s in-house process software facilitates verification of optimum design of any plant. This includes reuse facilities for water reuse and biorenewables production.
The lead objectives of decarbonisation are generation of carbon neutral conditions resulting from reduction of GHG emissions. This has to be combined with improvements to soil and water conditions to maximise carbon sequestration and biodiversity, respectively.
Ireland’s Climate Action Plan is committed to a 51% reduction in CO2 and other GHGs by 2030. It is anticipated that an annual GHG reduction equivalent to 200 million m3 will be affected with a corresponding CO2 production of 375,000 tonnes of co-product. This assumes immediate action by all.
Mitigate Pollution Risk
Treatment of wastewater and organic waste solids are important to mitigate pollution risk to soil and water. These products normally carry a high Carbon Footprint (CF) and are now viewed at regulatory level in combination with their contribution to pollution risk from nutrient carryover to water and GHG emissions, from ammonia, nitrous oxides, methane, and carbon dioxide etc.
Sustainable developments in this sector will result in significant reduction in CF and GHG. Treatment using bioreactors will result in carbon neutral biomethane, which will have an important part to play in the new Renewable Heat Obligation (RHO), and CO2 for reuse rather than emission as GHG.
The fertiliser crisis outlined by EU in their recent press release advocates reuse and processing of digestates to replace the present overuse of synthetic fertilisers.
Emerging technologies resulting from CEAP compliance will produce organic fertilisers which have been proven to increase productivity while resulting in healthier soil carbon to nutrient ratio. This reduces the risk of pollution and will create a healthier more sustainable agriculture. All unit operations to facilitate this are proven at field level and WEW has developed in-house engineering expertise to facilitate design of such bio renewables centres.
Reduction of Scope 1 GHG emissions is a lead global prerequisite to rapidly slow down climate change conditions. WEW’s expertise now includes integration of operations to remove, store, post-treat and deliver CO2 as a valuable co-product.
End uses such as acidification, food and beverage, biopharma, methanation etc are assessed by WEW on due diligence basis within the terms of the client’s carbon neutrality programme.
Decarbonisation engineering must now put scientific sustainability ideals into practice at a faster than normal pace to address the climate crisis. In broader terms, decarbonisation starts with monitoring and recording data to develop site wide mass and energy balances. Therefore, when a specialist is engaged to perform some proactive design work, optioneering or modelling, the data is available for them to start work immediately.
In future, the design of water, wastewater and solids treatment facilities must accommodate recovery of all co-products in place of removal of by-products using the conventional technologies. These priorities are embodied in all projects taken on by WEW.