Scotland’s sewers could contain enough natural heat to warm Glasgow for more than 15 years.
The claim comes in a study carried out by Scottish Water Horizons for Scottish Renewables, which shows how renewable energy technology like heat pumps could be used to harness that energy potential.
Scottish Water Horizon’s business development manager Donald MacBrayne said: “Water that is flushed down the drain from homes and businesses represents a significant source of thermal energy.
“Usually, this heat is lost during the treatment process and when treated effluent is returned to the environment. By tapping into this resource using heat recovery technology we can provide a sustainable heating solution which brings both cost, carbon and wider environmental benefits.”
The study found that 921 million litres of wastewater and sewage is flushed down Scots toilets and plugholes every day.
The researchers found that by capturing the warmth over 10,000 tonnes of CO2 could be prevented from entering the atmosphere.
Water in UK sewers can reach temperatures of 21 degrees celcius and maintains a constant temperature throughout the year.
Scottish Renewables policy manager Stephanie Clark said: “These new figures show the enormous scale of the energy we are literally flushing away every day.
“Water which is used in homes and businesses collects heat from the air around it, as in a toilet cistern, or is heated, as in dishwashers and showers. That’s in addition to the energy that it gains from the sun when stored in reservoirs.
“Technology now exists which allows us to capture that energy, and waste heat can play an important role in helping us reach our challenging climate change targets.”