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Mission 2040 – The role of microalgae cultivation to fulfil Veas ambitions

Veas, Norway’s largest wastewater plant, has an ambitious strategy towards 2040 to take on a broader role than just treating wastewater from the municipalities around the Oslofjord. The overall goal is to deliver maximum societal benefit. To achieve this, Veas is focusing on three aspects: (1) to achieve a zero vision for unwanted emission from the business; (2) to take care of the wastewater resources for net value-creating; and (3) to develop and demonstrate circular economy solutions to solve societal tasks for sustainable development. The strategy is summarized in the Figure below.

The ALGECO project aligns with the Veas 2040 strategy. ALGECO is aiming to establish a cost-effective algae-wastewater platform to implement the 3R technique concept (Reducing waste, Reusing waste, Regenerating value) for the treatment of municipal treated wastewater to launch an algae-based bioeconomy concept for Norwegian wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). Within this project, the primary focus is to compensate the existing biological wastewater treatment process towards eliminating unwanted discharges by removing the residual nutrients and sequestrating CO2 from biogas production. In line with the new waste management paradigm, the derived algae-based products will be assessed as a new biofertilizer for horticulture usage. Therefore, it is envisaged that ALGECO will deliver a new win-win strategy for Veas and improve its acceptance through awareness raising and capacity building.

As part of WP2 in this project, Veas regularly delivers tertiary wastewater to feed the algae raceways at NIVA’s research station at Solbergstrand. The aim is to optimise the upstream microalgae cultivation process, and the efficiency of this high growth pond system will be evaluated as a prototype of scale-up bioremediation process for Veas. Veas also assists with the assessment of the chemical composition of various water and algae samples, conducted in their accredited laboratory.

In practise, the water is collected directly after the biological treatment steps. The sheer size is better illustrated in the pictures below. About 4-6 m3 of treated wastewater is transported by third-party tank trucks (contracted with Veas) from the utility’s rock caverns to Solbergstrand on a regular basis to incorporate the pilot experimental activities of WP2. The endeavours aim to promote the efficiency of selected algae cultivation by removing the remaining nitrogen and phosphorus.

Treated wastewater filling into a tank truck to be transported to NIVA's research station at Solbergstrand (Source: Dr Rune Holmsted, 2023).

Apart from the pilot tests in WP2, Veas looks forward to gaining a clearer insight into the valorisation of produced algae biomass through the biorefinery investigation with the commercial biogas process (WP3), the efficacy of algae-based biofertilizer for horticulture usage (WP4), and relevant viable economic pathways to integrate ALGECO deliverables into Veas 2040 strategy (WP5). As the key industry partner of ALGECO, Veas will provide considerable supports to facilitate the project’s implementation from 2021 to 2025. Dr Rune Holmsted is the Senior Development Engineer of Veas and will coordinate the relevant research activities on site of Veas. For more information, please contact Rune at


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