Beer to biogas: creating renewable energy during COVID-19

In South Australia, millions of litres of expired beer is being converted to renewable energy to fully power the Glenelg wastewater treatment plant.


Beer consumption significantly reduced in March amid the coronavirus pandemic, as public venues such as pubs, clubs, and restaurants were forced to limit patronage.


As a result, various South Australian breweries have been sending 150,000 litres per week of expired beer to the Glenelg plant, where it is mixed with sewerage sludge to produce renewable biogas used to power the plant.

Millions of litres of expired beer is being sent to Glenelg Wastewater Treatment Plant. Source: Wikimedia Commons


SA Water has an impressive track record incorporating new and innovative technologies at the Glenelg wastewater treatment plant.


The first activated sludge plant in Australia was commissioned at Glenelg in 1933, only 20 years after the technology was invented in the UK.


Activated sludge is a common sewerage treatment process that typically uses aerobic micro-organisms to digest the wastewater’s organic matter, producing treated water relatively free of solids and organics.


The digestion process also produces waste called ‘Activated Sludge’, which is recycled and thickened in digestion and settling tanks, as shown in the diagram below.