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Bioenergy and energy from waste

Unitywater sewage waste to energy feasibility study

Assesses the commercial viability of converting Unitywater’s Kawana sewage treatment facility on the Sunshine Coast.

  • $296k

    ARENA Funding

  • $696k

    Total Project Value

This project will assess the commercial viability of converting Unitywater’s Kawana sewage treatment facility on the Sunshine Coast to generate biogas and electricity from a variety of waste sources.


ARENA commissioned Beca to investigate the potential for water sector specific funding in Australia. The Opportunity for Renewable Energy in the Australian Water Sector Report identifies bioenergy in waste water treatment as an investment priority, highlighting the need to support activities that demonstrate the viability and overcoming barriers to co-digestion of different waste feedstocks for anaerobic digestion.

Read: Opportunities for Renewable Energy in the Australian Water Sector Report (PDF 12MB)

Biogas and power generation technology is mature at large scale wastewater treatment plants; however this study seeks to address economic barriers to implementing waste to energy at small to medium sized waste water treatment facilities.

Bioenergy and energy from waste technologies are not widely deployed in Australia. With rising landfill fees and falling technology costs, there is significant potential for new investment in the urban waste industry.

Project Basics

ARENA Program

Advancing renewables

Lead Organisation


Start Date

Sep 2016

Project Partners



Kawana, Queensland



Project innovation

This project aims to demonstrate that the co-digestion of sewage biosolids and higher calorific feedstock within an anaerobic digestion facility can be cost effective at smaller, localised wastewater treatment plants in Australia.

Several waste streams will be investigated as part of this activity, including captured and treated sewage, as well as fats, oils and greases and other wastes from local industry and businesses.

The project also aims to capture and clean gas for the purpose of electricity generation. The electricity will be used to displace grid sourced generation in a behind-the-meter arrangement.


This project demonstrates the potential to tap into a variety of localised waste sources to produce sustainable renewable energy.

If commercially viable, the project offers an alternative opportunity for power generation for wastewater treatment plants of similar scale. The project will also uniquely demonstrate the use of grease trap waste, a highly concentrated organic waste stream, as an addition to biosolids for waste to energy. The innovative use of grease trap waste as a feedstock will also divert this waste from landfill, reducing the carbon footprint of both landfill gases as well as the energy needs of the facility.

Accompanied with a detailed Knowledge Sharing Plan, the project will allow other wastewater treatment facilities to consider the benefits of co-digestion as part of their strategy.

More information

News – 17 Nov 2016 Rethinking sewage: Turning unused waste into renewable energy

Contact information

Heather Bone

0400 473 733