Extended statistical entropy analysis (eSEA) is used to evaluate the nitrogen (N) budgets of 13 Austrian wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). The eSEA results are then compared to the WWTPs specific N-removal rates. Among the five WWTPs that achieve a removal rate of 75% the eSEA detects significant differences in the N-performance. The main reason for this is that eSEA considers all N-species and seems to be more discriminating than the N-removal rate. Additionally, the energy consumption and the costs of the mechanical–biological treatment process are related to the N-performance according to the eSEA. The influence of the WWTP size on the energy- and cost-efficiency of the N-treatment is investigated. Results indicate that energy-efficiency does not necessarily coincide with cost-efficiency. It is shown that smaller WWTPs between 22,000 PE (population equivalents) and 50,000 PE can be operated as energy-efficiently as larger WWTPs between 100,000 and 1,000,000 PE. On average, the smaller plants operate less cost-efficiently than the large ones. This research offers a new method for the assessment of the N-performance of WWTPs, and suggests that small WWTPs are not necessarily less energy- and cost-efficient than large ones.

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