Northumbrian Water is enhancing the way it uses the gas generated from the sewage it treats on Teesside to help power one of its largest sites, thanks to an investment of more than £9.5m.

The new Gas to Grid plant at Bran Sands Regional Effluent Treatment Works on Teesside will not only significantly reduce the cost of running the site, it will also see enough biomethane to fuel 5,000 homes injected back into the National Grid.

Bran Sands is the second Northumbrian Water site to use Gas to Grid, following the establishment of a similar plant at Howdon on North Tyneside in 2015. The investment represents the latest part of the company’s wide-ranging energy management plan, through which it continues to utilise increasing volumes of sustainable energy from a variety of sources.

The Teesside investment will see returns of almost £3m per annum, as a result of saving on its energy bills and returns from a two-tier renewable heat incentive agreement, as well as delivering environmental benefits through the export of the gas.

Northumbrian Water already uses 100% of its sewage sludge to create energy, mainly thanks to the Anaerobic Digestion “Power From Poo” operations at Bran Sands and Howdon, and the Teesside site also generates sustainable power from a 943-panel solar array on its rooftops.

Richard Murray, Northumbrian Water’s Head of Wastewater Treatment and Bioresources, said: “The Gas To Grid plant at Bran Sands is the latest part of our work to expand upon a wide-ranging sustainable energy mix that not only delivers value for money for our customer by reducing costs, but also contributes to our goal of achieving operational carbon neutrality by 2027.

“Bran Sands is a site that, at its heart, is there to protect the environment. The gas that is now flowing through the new plant represents the result of four years of planning and work to establish the Gas to Grid plant and add an extra layer of sustainability to the way we treat the sewage and industrial effluent from across Teesside.

“In terms of the human sewage we are treating, this creates a cycle of waste and energy. Customers cook using gas, eat their dinner and this creates waste that is flushed into our network. We then treat that waste and elements are used to create gas that goes back into the National Grid and may then be used to cook more meals.”

Julie Gilhespie is the Chief Executive of the Tees Valley Combined Authority Group, which includes the South Tees Development Corporation, the area within which Northumbrian Water sits. She said: “Northumbrian Water has a long history of using sustainable power at its site in Tees Valley. This latest £9.5m investment in innovative technology takes this commitment even further.

“Our aspirations for the Development Corporation site are heavily focused on becoming a leading site for clean growth and the circular economy, with an aim to play host to the first decarbonised industrial cluster by 2030 with the Net Zero Teesside project. This is another example of how businesses in the region share our clean energy goals.”

Installation of the equipment was carried out by Swedish specialists Malmberg, the company that also delivered the sister plant at Howdon.