Achieving Net-Zero targets in the water industry

The journey to Net-Zero

Ranking as the fourth most energy intensive industry in the UK the water industry is the first sector in the UK to commit to Net-Zero carbon emissions by 2030. We know this a monumental challenge.

Understanding which solutions can be applied to each of the pathways (demand-led, technology-led, removals-led) requires collaboration with your supply chain. Your shareholders and customers are expecting action, so it is vital to start testing solutions and be seen to be doing something.

Water companies are under ever increasing scrutiny from the Government, regulators, and journalists around Net-Zero. As part of your supply chain, we understand your routemap and have a range of solutions relevant to specific interventions within each pathway.

We know your operations and where the emissions and pollution exist and have innovative solutions that can support you in whichever pathway you choose to implement.

Net-Zero whitepaper

In a poll of the water industry, most participants had already selected a primary pathway to Net-Zero, however, only one respondent was ‘completely confident’ about achieving Net-Zero in the next nine years. 

Burning fossil fuels interventions

We know that the burning of fossil fuels though water and wastewater treatment processes makes up a large proportion of your overall emissions and that reducing these is fundamental to success across all three pathways.

Each of the pathways include interventions which work to reduce the requirement to burn fossil fuels in the water and wastewater processes.

We can support you with the following interventions:

Sludge conversion to biogas

A pivotal part of Net-Zero success is rethinking the way we deal with waste. Solutions include reducing it at source, responsibly removing it from site, and closing the loop by converting it into green energy supplies.

A growing number of wastewater facilities have already installed combined heat and power (CPH) engines as part of wider renewable fuel generation programmes. These units use the natural process of anaerobic digestion (AD) to transform sludge into biogas, which can be used to power site operations, combusted to create electricity and heat, or sold back to the local grid. In turn, the heat generated from CHP facilities can be re-purposed to accelerate the AD cycle.

The move to biogas generation requires long-term investment, but those water companies already generating power from sewage sludge have seen significant cost benefits and carbon reduction.

We can support your business to:

  • Install the infrastructure to convert sewage sludge into biogas
  • Build the kit to a process design and develop the automation/scada system to run it using our mechanical, electrical and PLC systems integration capabilities
Replacing gas oil with HVO for water and wastewater processes

Gas oil is currently used to power a number of water and wastewater processes on our sites. This has an implication on your emissions. Thankfully this is a relatively easy fix with a drop in HVO alternative. We have a range of services to support with the transition of gas oil to HVO across all your water and wastewater processes including:

  • Using our specialist fuel uplift tankers to remove gas oil
  • Clean and inspect tanks to ensure their integrity
  • Inspect assets to ensure they are suitable for HVOs
  • Add new HVO fuel
  • Suggest alternative maintenance schedule to avoid microbial contamination
Hydrogen generators for water and wastewater processes

While still in its infancy, onsite hydrogen production could emerge as the industry’s Net-Zero saviour. We are unlikely to see an active contribution by the water sector by 2030. Current discussions in the UK around the production of green hydrogen coming from water through electrolysis may mean that more sectors in the UK may approach the water sector to see whether and how it could contribute to a future hydrogen economy in the UK.

Electrolysis solutions can extract hydrogen from partially treated wastewater with no carbon emissions. The process occurs in an electrolyser, which is manufactured in containers of varying sizes and outputs. When powered by a green energy source such as wind or solar, the units facilitate a waste-free hydrogen production cycle with a range of commercial and ecological benefits.

This green hydrogen could be:

  • stored to fuel your water company’s vehicles (or simply used to power the electrolysis process to use more hydrogen when renewable energy sources aren’t available)
  • sold back into the grid as an additional revenue stream
  • sold to hydrogen consumers such as chemical plants and refineries as an additional revenue stream
  • used to power local services, including buses, domestic waste vehicles and police cars

A bi-product of hydrogen production is oxygen which can be recycled to speed up the AD cycle, maximising efficiency even further.

When you are ready to consider this technology, we can support your business by:

  • Working with you to develop a strategy to begin onsite hydrogen production through electrolysis (ensuring it fits with your wider hydrogen strategy)
  • Designing and installing the equipment to generate your own hydrogen

Transport interventions

Whichever pathway you are considering, addressing emissions from transport could be a quick win.

Sludge tankering operations – which produce on average 900g CO2/km – can be transformed with a wholesale switch to electric and alternative fuel vehicles.

Whatever combination of electric, biogas or hydrogen you choose, we can help you develop a strategy for all your transport across your fleet.

Alternative fuel technology is the enabler to deliver carbon neutrality and outperform your commitments to your customers and the environment. Applying existing technology at scale will minimise emissions while overcoming regulatory and financial blockers.

We can support your organisation with the following services:

Energy efficiency – journey reduction

We remove huge volumes of wastewater and hazardous waste from your sites each year via road tankers which has a direct impact on your overall carbon emissions.

We can improve your drainage to reduce waste tankering by:

  • Ensuring your drainage is operating effectively lessening the need to remove wastewater from your sites
  • Reduce mileage from your process and systems which directly contributes to your CEMARs reporting
  • Recycle or repurpose your hazardous waste, such as sludge and treatment biproducts
Alternative technologies – biogas, hydrogen, EV


The technology exists today to convert your HGV fleet fuel infrastructure to biogas. Our fuel infrastructure specialists can support your organisation with the following services:

  • Decommissioning your existing fuel infrastructure
  • Design and installation of fuel infrastructure for biogas
  • Ongoing maintenance of biogas fuel infrastructure


Hydrogen fuel infrastructure

Hydrogen power for HGV fleet is already available. As you work to identify alternative low/zero emissions fuel sources for HGVs and engage with the transport sector to encourage the accelerated commercialisation of these, we can support you with the fuel infrastructure required to continually power your fleet operations.

We can support your organisation with the following services:

  • Decommissioning your existing fuel infrastructure
  • Design and installation of fuel infrastructure for hydrogen
  • Ongoing maintenance of hydrogen fuel infrastructure



We know you are operating thousands of work and office vehicles, both directly and indirectly. The technology exists today to reduce the emissions of these vehicles instantly by installing electric vehicle charging points at your key sites.

Our electrical experts can provide a full end-to-end solution for your EV charging requirements. Services include:

  • Consulting and developing your strategy
  • Creating a design and feasibility study
  • Supporting your DNO application
  • Providing full peripheral civil engineering works
  • Completing electrical infrastructure installation
  • Supply and installation of charging equipment and commissioning and sign off

Natural sequestration interventions

The natural sequestration intervention focuses on accelerating the deployment of solutions to be able to remove CO2 through natural sequestration within water sector land and the wider UK territory.

The sector needs to start engaging with stakeholders to better understand the carbon removal benefits across its land holdings and other potential locations within UK territory from peatland and grassland restoration and identify suitable sites to restore.

Benefits of natural sequestration include biodiversity through habitat creation, water quality improvements and natural flood management.

Our environmental consultancy will perform the following services before beginning habitat restoration work:

  • Ground monitoring - assess your sites for a range of contaminants
  • Land decontamination services – excavate and remove contaminated earth and replace with clean material
  • Water & ecology services - assess a range of habitat ecologies to provide biodiversity enhancement and habitat restoration
  • Environmental monitoring - ongoing bespoke monitoring programmes, sampling, analysis, and comprehensive reporting services

Our team of ecologists are present throughout to ensure the restoration is suited to site conditions and establishes successfully, so the habitat thrives for decades to come. We can support your organisation with the following services:

Planting trees

We know you have a collective target to plant 11 million trees by 2030. This target will see trees planted on around 6,000ha of land across England together with work to restore original woodland and improve natural habitats that themselves provide natural sequestration through land use change. A native mix of trees is recommended for increased biodiversity benefits.

  • Our ecologists will survey the land and recommend the best tree species, yield class, management practices, etc. to ensure the area continues to thrive for decades.
Peatland restoration

Peatlands are rare, covering only about three percent of the Earth’s surface. Yet they provide important habitat for many species.

Degraded peatlands are responsible for a large portion of carbon emissions from natural systems. Peat soils can be restored, however, to prevent the further breakdown of stored plant material and to capture new plant debris from vegetation growing aboveground. Restoration efforts will also have important benefits for biodiversity.

The primary method of restoration involves “re-wetting” or restoring the natural flow of water and soil saturation.

Our environmental consultants can deploy:

  • Peatland feasibility survey and design
  • Peatland excavation and planting
Grassland restoration

Grassland restoration is widely applied to increase the naturalness of the landscape and preserve biodiversity. The success of each technique depends on the site conditions, history, availability of propagules and/or donor sites, and on the budget and time available for restoration. 

Our environmental consultants can provide the most frequently used restoration techniques (spontaneous succession, sowing seed mixtures, transfer of plant material, topsoil removal and transfer) as well as techniques used to improve species richness (planting, grazing and mowing) to recover natural-like grasslands from ex-arable lands. 

Our environmental consultants can deploy:

  • Grassland feasibility survey and design
  • Grassland excavation and planting

Keep your business compliant, safe and avoid costly downtime

Find out how Adler & Allan can identify and mitigate risk to protect your reputation, your staff and your environment

Find out how Adler & Allan can identify and mitigate risk to protect your reputation, your staff and your environment