Goal 7: Affordable and Clean Energy

All over the world efforts have been made to find new solutions to create and produce clean energy. In order to accelerate this transition, social and economic efforts must be made. Goal seven aims to double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency to guarantee more reliable, affordable, sustainable and modern energy systems.

Goal 7: Affordable and Clean Energy

“Reliable and affordable energy is essential for meeting basic human needs and fueling economic growth, but many of the most difficult and dangerous environmental problems at every level of economic development arise from the harvesting, transport, processing and conversion of energy.”

John Holdren
Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama



1.2 billion people (20% of the world’s population) do not have access to electricity.

By using anaerobic digestion to capture biomethane from wastewater sludge, which is then turned into energy, or implementing green infrastructures to control energy consumption, our technologies provide sustainable sources of energy and energy management.

One city’s mission to save money and the planet

Wastewater treatment produces sludge as a by-product which is primarily human waste. Instead of simply disposing of this sludge, which can be expensive and time-consuming, why not transform it into energy?

That is what Fréjus, a city located in the French Riviera, did in 2019 by equipping its Reyran station with a methanisation unit, allowing the conversion of biogas into biomethane.

The valorization of the biogas is ensured by our membrane technology via a separation technique that purifies the biogas (approximately 60% methane) into biomethane (over 97% methane) to meet the qualities required for its end use.

The technology uses very low energy to operate and does not require reagents or water. And, as well as producing natural gas and high-quality sludge for the agricultural sector, the reduction of its volume decreases constraints and costs of disposal and limits greenhouse gas emissions.

The biomethane is reinjected into the gas network benefiting five municipalities by producing 6,000 megawatts of electricity and heating 750 local homes, annually.

"This injection of green gas into our territory's natural gas distribution network is first and foremost the result of a political will to reduce our agglomeration's energy dependency. In addition, it limits GHG emissions, generates revenue and allows us to benefit from avoided costs. These savings can be reinvested in projects aimed at developing new energies or reducing energy consumption." — Maurice Chabert, former CAVEM elected representative of five municipalities including Reyran

Effective and controlled energy savings

For the past few years, energy transition has been in the center of French priorities. Ambitious programs were launched under the Energy and Climate Change Law 2019 by designing a national low-carbon strategy.

Even before the law, Veolia Water Technologies’ subsidiary, OTV, began working on the Cagnes-sur-Mer wastewater station in 2017. Located in the south of France, it is France’s first energy-positive wastewater treatment plant.

Beyond the architectural concerns regarding the design and harmony of the building in the sector and the green aspects integrated in the plant, OTV accomplished this with high-performance equipment in compliance with European standards.

Today the plant treats the wastewater of 160,000 inhabitants and produces more energy than it consumes. Thanks to a low temperature sludge treatment, limited energy consumption, the recovery of all potential sources (solar, heat pumps, etc.), and production of biomethane for resale by reinjection into the network, the site produces enough power to supply 1,000 homes.

France has committed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 40% between 1990 and 2030 and fourfold between 1990 and 2050.

"With numerous innovations, such as the biofiltration of water, treatment by air micro-bubbles injected into the water, mesophilic digestion of sludge, secure biomethane production, and the perfect control of acoustic and olfactory nuisances, everything has been done to ensure that this plant is useful, productive and perfectly integrated into our urban environment". - Louis Negre, Mayor of Cagnes-sur-Mer, Delegate President of the Nice Côte d'Azur Metropolis

With three innovation and sustainability awards on its mantel, this facility produces more than energy

Denmark ranked top in the global sustainability index for 2020. One of the country’s biggest accomplishments is reducing its CO2 emissions over 50% since peaking in 1996.

It has achieved this by rethinking its resources and one example is the Billund BioRefinery, which is much more than a wastewater treatment plant.

Yes, it treats the wastewater of approximately 70,000 residents, but it’s an innovative and complete sludge reduction solution that makes it special. This is the first full-scale plant of its sort in the world boasting continuous thermal hydrolysis.

This means it can anaerobically co-digest 5,000 tonnes of primarily domestic organic waste, together with the surplus activated sludge from the biological wastewater treatment process, per year — the same weight as 33 blue whales.

It runs continuously, rather than in batches so the reactor volume is used 100%. As a result, it treats over three times the amount of sludge compared to a similar sized batch reactor, substantially lowering its energy footprint.

Denmark has decided that Danish wastewater utility companies will be 100% energy and Climate Neutral Certified by 2030.

Billund’s biogas production generates about three times the energy requirements of the plant itself, with the surplus being exported to the grid.

Billund Water and Energy has chosen SDG 7 as one very important goal for the future. Supporting production of more green energy from biogas production, than the entire utility company can use in making electricity, heat for district heating. An important step in making Billund municipality a CO2 neutral community. — Ole Johnsen, CEO, Billund Water and Energy

Blue Gold, inspiring, real-life stories about the Sustainable Development Goals in action

Listen now to the episode dedicated to Goal 7.
Affordable and clean energy - find out how we use anaerobic digestion to capture biomethane from wastewater sludge and turn it into energy to power local homes in Fréjus; how green infrastructure created energy-positive wastewater treatment plant in Cagnes-sur-Mer; and how we produce twice as much biomethane and reduce waste by fifty percent more than standard technologies at the Billund BioRefinery.

Discover Blue Gold on Youtube 
with English subtitles and on all major podcast platforms.



Discover our other commitments

Our conclusion

Since September 2015, when all United Nations member states adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals, our collective global progress has been slow.
The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, has called for a decade of action to ensure we meet the global targets we set ourselves.

We all need to take responsibility and act today — not tomorrow — to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030.

At Veolia Water Technologies, we are committed to supporting the Sustainable Development Goals. 

Are you? Please, share with us your SDG focus and progress!