IT’s renewable, environmentally friendly and never in short supply.

So it’s perhaps fitting that Oxford Sewage Works will soon be largely running on “poo power” as part of a five-year, £27.7m project.

Thames Water estimates the new technology – which will harness the energy from every toilet flush across the city by converting human waste into electricity – will save the Grenoble Road plant £800,000 a year on energy bills.

It comes six months after British Gas announced a scheme at Didcot Sewage Works to convert the town’s waste into a power source for the nation’s boilers and cookers.

The Thames scheme last night won praise from the Low Carbon West Oxford group.

Thames Water has been generating electricity at the site but the new scheme is a change in technology that will triple the energy created.

The company estimates each person in Oxford can produce enough waste in a year to keep a 60 watt lightbulb on for 65 minutes a day.

John Gilbert, head of carbon management, said: “We’ve been generating electricity from waste since World War II but we need to do a whole lot more of it.

“Water and sewage is heavy stuff. Moving it around requires a lot of energy, which is costly.

“Producing electricity from waste cuts £15m a year off the grid energy bills for our 22 sewage works, saving money for customers and cutting our reliance on fossil fuel-related power and also landfill.”

Electricity is currently generated by either burning methane derived from the waste, or by burning the waste itself.

The resulting heat is then used to make electricity. The new process, called thermal hydrolysis, produces renewable energy more effectively by increasing the amount of biogas released during anaerobic digestion.

Mr Gilbert said: “Our core business relies on the environment.

“We have to do all we can to protected it.

“This significant investment at Oxford Sewage Works will play a big role in helping us to cut greenhouse emissions by 20 per cent on 1990 levels.”

Thames Water estimated the new technology would triple the amount of energy it could produce from people’s waste, meaning it would use less from the national grid.

The site currently produces enough equivalent energy to power 2,000 homes, which will increase to 6,000 by 2015.

Lois Muddiman, from campaign group Low Carbon West Oxford, said: “Thames Water is setting a very good example, and we have great admiration for any com-pany that takes these steps.

“Everybody in Oxford, including residents and businesses, needs to look at how to cut their carbon emissions.”

Last year, National Grid said that up to 50 per cent of Britain’s homes could one day be heated by renewable gas.

Biomethane is already booming across Europe. In Sweden, 15,000 cars run on biogas and biogas plants in Germany employ 10,000 people.