Producing energy from wastewater and organic waste

Project description

Title: Producing energy from wastewater and organic waste
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB)
Country: India
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF); Nashik Municipal Corporation (NMC)
Overall term: 2009 to 2016


India is the world's fourth largest energy consumer. If economic growth remains strong, energy consumption will quadruple over the next twenty years. At the same time, urbanisation in India is progressing at a rapid pace, and today's estimates indicate that up to 600 million people, or almost half the Indian population, will be living in towns and cities by 2030. The economic growth goes hand in hand with rising resource consumption and a significant deterioration in environmental quality. The waste and wastewater management systems are quite inadequate. Large parts of the urban population are excluded from the fruits of economic development. According to India's 2008 National Urban Sanitation Policy, 150 million people living in urban areas today have insufficient access to sanitation facilities. The wastewater does not reach sewage treatment facilities, which causes it to pollute the fresh water reserves and emit greenhouse gases. According to the Central Pollution Control Board, only a little more than 20 per cent of urban wastewater reaches sewage treatment facilities. It is not used to generate energy because the technical personnel lack the requisite expertise and technology. In addition, the local authorities dispose of much waste inappropriately, causing it to contaminate soil, air and groundwater and to emit greenhouse gases.


The city of Nashik in the state of Maharashtra is reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by using wastewater and organic waste for conversion to energy. By adopting this approach, it is improving its urban wastewater and waste management systems and demonstrating a technical solution in conurbations that can be replicated and financed, and contributes to the climate change goals pursued by the Indian Government.


The project is working together with the administration and technical personnel of the city of Nashik to plan, build and operate a plant for producing energy from wastewater and organic waste. This plant is to recycle and generate energy from wastewater and organic waste by means of anaerobic digestion. First of all, agreement was reached on the joint project with the partners involved from India’s Environment Ministry and the city administration.

An initial assessment and feasibility study settled the questions regarding the location of the pilot plant, the availability of adequate waste and wastewater streams with long-term stability and the potential of the biogas production. The study determined the most efficient mixture of wastewater and organic waste, calculated the possible greenhouse gas savings and produced a monitoring plan and a recycling plan including a cost-benefit analysis for the city administration.

Following these preparations, the project carried out all preparatory work together with the city of Nashik. The partners drafted the planning and approval documents jointly with the project as well as the tender documents for the construction of the technical plant. The project drew up a financing agreement with the Nashik city administration. An international consortium provided technical support and handled the necessary preliminary scientific tests regarding the biogas potential that did not already form part of the basic evaluation.

The next steps involve the construction and commissioning of the pilot plant. The commissioning of the pilot plant is being supported by international technical experts; training is being provided for the operator and the technical personnel of the city of Nashik.
The operation of the plant is also being supported from a scientific perspective. The results are being evaluated so that they can be used by other towns, cities and operators in India.


As a result of the intensive involvement of the elected representatives of the city of Nashik and the city administration, all participants were able to improve their technical and business skills. International experts communicated the necessary expertise regarding technological options and management, for instance by providing information about applying the feed-in law for electricity and using a combination of wastewater and organic waste. Other towns and cities have enquired about the sustainable operating and financing model of the plant in Nashik and are showing interest in adopting it. Energy production from wastewater and organic waste is a new concept for Indian urban areas and has consequently aroused considerable interest in constructing more plants of this type.