Instead of damming a river and flooding the surrounding valley to build a hydroelectric plant, East Delhi has harnessed the power of the water flowing through its sewage pipes. A new hydropower plant, commissioned in August this year, is said to be the first ever to run from treated sewage water.
The plant, situated in Chilla, New Delhi, will be powered by already-treated water as it runs out of the facility. The water drops almost 16 feet, running through a turbine on the way. This will produce 20,000 kWh per year, all of which will be used to power the treatment plant itself. As a guide, an average U.S family home uses around 12,000 kWh per year.
Green power is important in developing countries. India currently gets almost 70% of its power from fossil fuels. A single sewage plant generating less power than is needed by two U.S. homes is hardly an answer to that, but it does show that the government, which paid for this pilot project, is thinking in the right direction. In fact, the Delhi Jal Board (the Delhi water authority) is planning to expand the scheme, says this government report:
“In its quest for environmental solutions the DJB is looking at the possibility of replication of this ‘green power generation’ at its other installations as well.”