For the sustainability you don’t yet know.

Picture the following, the roof of the home in which you live is lined with photovoltaic solar panels, there are also photovoltaic panels on the sides of the home, meanwhile your home is passively designed, meaning your homes uses natural sources of thermal energy such as the sun and the cool breeze to heat and cool your home respectfully. Moreover, your home is also connected to hydro power that way any additional energy your home may need is available. On top of all this magic your home uses sewage heat recovery to capture all the money that is going down your drain. To me, all of this is beginning to sound like the complete picture, not only would you be using less energy, but the energy that you would be using is sourced from renewables. Now imagine your whole community, your whole city, and your whole province are doing the exact same thing—that would be, in my words, pretty f**king awesome.  

What do you know about sewage heat recovery?

Written by Rob Forrester

2021-10-02

money down the drain

This week we have the pleasure to feature an article written by a past JSEC member, Robbie Forrester. He was an amazing partner in our events team last year and brought some great conversations and book recommendations to our meetings! This year he has started working at Sharc Energy and gave us a rundown on how we can have better sewage systems and remind us to question whether we are looking at all the possible environment solutions out there! We hope you enjoy his article!

Picture the following, the roof of the home in which you live is lined with photovoltaic solar panels, there are also photovoltaic panels on the sides of the home, meanwhile your home is passively designed, meaning your homes uses natural sources of thermal energy such as the sun and the cool breeze to heat and cool your home respectfully. Moreover, your home is also connected to hydro power that way any additional energy your home may need is available. On top of all this magic your home uses sewage heat recovery to capture all the money that is going down your drain. To me, all of this is beginning to sound like the complete picture, not only would you be using less energy, but the energy that you would be using is sourced from renewables. Now imagine your whole community, your whole city, and your whole province are doing the exact same thing—that would be, in my words, pretty f**king awesome.  

But wait? What was this whole thing about recovering money going down the drain? Well, let’s think about it, we pay for energy that heats the water for our showers, sinks, washing machines, and dishwashers, etc., only to have that same energy go down the drain. Even worse, most homes in Canada use natural gas boilers to fuel this linear heating cycle, which means we are not only wasting money, but we are also emitting carbon. 

Late this summer I began a job at Sharc Energy where we recover thermal energy from wastewater using a glorified electric heat pump. Now if a significant amount of energy flows down the drain in a single home, think about how much energy is lost in an apartment building, a hotel, a hospital, a laundry mat, or your community centre with a pool and gym. Rumour has it that trillions of dollars go down the drain each year—and what about the carbon? According to the Prairie Climate Centre, 45% of Canada’s carbon emissions come from burning fuel for electricity and heat in our various buildings across society. What is the catch though right? Why do we not see a sewage heat recovery system everywhere. As you may have predicted the rarity of this system comes down to the green premium associated with the technology. The upfront capital expenditures are greater with sewage heat recovery technology than in comparison to the A-typical natural gas boiler. Even then, the best natural gas boiler has an efficiency ratio of 90%, meaning that per one unit of energy put into the natural gas boiler it will yield 0.9 units of thermal heat energy. Whereas, with one of Sharc Energy’s sewage heat pumps the efficiency ratio is on average 350%, or 1-unit energy to run the system produces an equivalent of 3.5 units of thermal heat energy. In this regard, your energy bill would be cheaper if you had a Sharc sewage heat pump and in time, through your savings, the Sharc system’s original capital expenditures will be recovered. The system literally pays for itself. 

Anyways, that was your Sharc 101. Had you ever heard of sewage heat recovery before? I know I hadn’t before this past winter. What else haven’t we heard about? What else can be improved? This space of clean energy solutions is growing—if it interests you, do your homework, be proactive, find employers, reach out, ask questions, and be a part of the growth. 

Thanks for reading!

Robbie Forrester

JMSB Management Graduate, JSEC 2020-2021 Alumni

Leave a Reply