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Shaping the water industry: harnessing renewable energy and sustainability for a cleaner tomorrow

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By Robert Brears

· 3 min read

In recent years, the world has seen a significant shift towards renewable energy sources as countries and companies look for ways to reduce their carbon footprint and combat climate change. The water industry is no exception, with companies like Hamburg Wasser leading the charge in advancing sustainability and promoting the use of renewable energy in their operations.

Investment in Renewable Energy Sources

Hamburg Wasser is the public water company responsible for supplying clean drinking water and treating wastewater in Hamburg, Germany. With a customer base of over 2 million, the company is committed to providing high-quality, reliable water services while minimising its environmental impact. One way that Hamburg Wasser achieves this goal is by using renewable energy sources.

Solar Power

The company has made significant investments in solar and wind power, focusing on generating clean energy to power its water treatment plants and other facilities. In 2018, Hamburg Wasser inaugurated its first large-scale solar power plant, located on the roof of its Fuhlsbüttel water treatment plant. The plant has a capacity of 720 kWp and generates over 600,000 kWh of electricity each year, which is enough to power over 200 households. In addition, the plant reduces the company’s reliance on non-renewable energy sources and helps reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 450 metric tons per year.

Wind Power

Hamburg Wasser has also invested in wind power, with two wind turbines located at its Horst water treatment plant. The turbines have a combined capacity of 5.4 MW and generate over 12 million kWh of electricity annually, enough to power over 3,500 households. The company has also installed small-scale wind turbines at several other facilities.

Energy Efficiency

In addition to generating renewable energy, Hamburg Wasser is also working to increase energy efficiency in its operations. The company has implemented various measures to reduce energy consumption, such as installing energy-efficient lighting and optimising its pumping systems.

Recognition and Awards

Hamburg Wasser’s commitment to sustainability and renewable energy has not gone unnoticed. The company has received several awards and recognitions for its efforts, including the 2020 German Sustainability Award in the category of Resource Efficiency and the 2020 Blue Planet Prize, awarded by the Asahi Glass Foundation for outstanding contributions to solving global environmental problems.

The Business Case for Sustainability

Hamburg Wasser’s focus on renewable energy and sustainability is not just good for the environment — it is also good for business. By reducing its energy consumption and reliance on non-renewable energy sources, the company can save on operating costs and improve its bottom line.


In conclusion, Hamburg Wasser is an excellent example of a water company leading the way in promoting sustainability and using renewable energy sources. By investing in solar and wind power, increasing energy efficiency, and implementing a range of other measures, the company is demonstrating that it can provide high-quality water services while protecting the environment and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Other water companies worldwide should look to Hamburg Wasser as a model for how they can become more sustainable and environmentally responsible in their operations.

This article is also published on the author's blog. illuminem Voices is a democratic space presenting the thoughts and opinions of leading Sustainability & Energy writers, their opinions do not necessarily represent those of illuminem.

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About the author

Robert Brears is the founder of Our Future Water, an international sectoral expert (water) with the UN's Green Climate Fund, and the author of 14 books, including Developing the Blue Economy, Nature-based Solutions to 21st Century Challenges, and Financing Nature-based Solutions, among others.

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