Promoting Growth and Innovation in the Water Sector
Innovation is critical to the health of our water industry and the contribution it makes to the overall economy, driving down costs for consumers and helping to differentiate businesses by developing new processes, technology or materials that are more efficient, effective and cheaper than those they replace. Supporting innovation is a major focus of the Hydro Nation agenda and detailed below are examples of this in practice.
Smart Water Foresighting
Scottish Enterprise is carrying out foresighting research into the opportunities in water technology for Scottish companies in the next ten-years. The research focuses on ‘smart water’ – the digitalisation of the water industry.
Smart water has been identified as a rapidly growing opportunity which could have a significant impact in Scotland and globally. It covers developments in instrumentation, networks and data analytics to tackle water industry challenges and support net zero carbon.
Smart water solutions are already being deployed in a variety of situations such as remote monitoring, customer engagement, smart meters and digital twinning. Other examples include the use of smart water in monitoring for Covid-19 in the wastewater network to allow for early monitoring of outbreaks.
Current water industry challenges such as leak detection, security of supply and flood forecasting and reducing energy usage all have the potential to be addressed. This latest water industry revolution, water 4.0, is set to be worth an estimated $30bn globally [UK Water Partnership]. Scottish companies from both the water and digital sectors can benefit from this emerging sector.
Through desk-based research and interviews with stakeholders, the Foresighting discussion paper will take a broad look at the Scottish water sector where digitalisation is already occurring and where it has the potential to have an impact. The report should be of benefit to any company interested in the opportunities arising from digital water.
Food waste recycling – 10 year anniversary
Over one million tonnes of food are thrown out in Scotland each year. Whilst some of this waste is unavoidable, it can be effectively tackled by recycling it into sustainable new products to help fight against climate change. Scottish Water Horizon’s food waste recycling facility at Deerdykes, near Cumbernauld, is capturing some of this waste to generate green energy and produce a natural fertiliser.
Since commissioning in September 2010, the facility has recycled over 155,000 tonnes of food waste from local authorities and commercial producers into green electricity, helping to divert waste from landfill where it produces harmful greenhouse gases.
Over the past 10 years the plant has generated 38 GWh of green electricity, and offset 96,700 tonnes of carbon emissions – the equivalent of powering over 10,000 homes.
Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme
Scottish Enterprise (SE) is a partner in the SG led Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme (LCITP). There have been several examples of deployment of water and wastewater as the energy source for large-scale district heating projects across Scotland. Examples include:
Queens Quay, West Dunbartonshire – This project features the first large-scale deployment of water-source heat pumps in Scotland. The project will extract heat from the River Clyde to supply a district heat network that will provide heat to the Queens Quay development and potentially beyond in future years. The project received £6m in funding from the Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Project with the balance funded by West Dunbartonshire Council.
Stirling District Heating Scheme – Stirling Council and Scottish Water Horizons have collaborated to create, develop and deliver a low carbon infrastructure project to the benefit of the Stirling area. The project involves harnessing energy from wastewater and carbon neutral biogas to deliver affordable, low carbon heat to the Forthside area of the city. The total project cost was some £6.2m with funding from Stirling Council and Scottish Water Horizons supported by LCITP.
Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District Scotland (AMIDS), Renfrewshire Council – SE is working closely with Renfrewshire Council, supported by LCITP, to investigate and scope the potential for a district heat network to supply the AMIDS development at Renfrew. An initial feasibility study has identified scope to develop a heat network supplied by extraction of heat from the outfall from the adjacent wastewater treatment works. The project is being developed in collaboration with Scottish Water Horizons.
Xylem Partnership - world’s first waste water pump system with integrated intelligence
Scottish Water Horizons and Xylem Water Solutions, a world leading water technology company, have announced an exciting new partnership that will help housing developers improve efficiency and reduce their carbon footprint. They have developed the world’s first innovative wastewater pump system with integrated intelligence, Xylem’s Flygt Concertor system. The system’s smart technology can sense environmental operating conditions and adapt the pump’s performance to ensure they always operate at the optimum level whilst providing intelligent feedback to station operators. Compared to traditional pumps, the Flygt Concertor offers up to a 70 per cent saving on energy consumption, drastically reducing carbon and running costs. This will make the vesting process easier for Developers which in turn helps meet growing demand for new housing with a greener carbon footprint.
Water Test Network
Over the past year the Water Test Network, an INTERREG North-West European funded programme led by Scottish Water Horizons, has successfully helped a number of small-medium enterprises (SMEs) to access test facilities and funding support to drive innovation across the water sector.
Already the Water Test Network has experienced strong demand for the service – with 80 applications received from SMEs across Europe including Austria, Belgium, Finland, Sweden, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK since its creation in December 2018. More recently the Water Test Network formed a partnership with the US-based Water Council to help members accelerate the commercialisation of new innovations.
Scottish Water Development Centres
The creation of Scottish Water’s Development Centre at Gorthleck in 2015 was in direct response to the identified need for businesses and researchers to have access to a water treatment facility to enable testing and development of new technologies on an industrial scale. Since commissioning, the Development Centre has hosted a number of trials including the testing of new nanomembrane technology, alternative processes for chlorine disinfection, and point of use equipment to provide sustainable clean drinking water for rural areas.
To increase flexibility and widen scope, the centre is now undergoing a further upgrade in the form of a training hub for the operation of nanofiltration tubular membrane technology. Presently there is no such facility within the UK or beyond that can offer an off-grid training facility whereby operatives from the utility, academic and industrial sectors can be trained how to operate membrane plants under live conditions in a large scale environment.
The provision of a demonstrative membrane facility such as that at Gorthleck would enable such training to take place in a safe and secure environment, support consistency and foster a culture of knowledge sharing and collaboration.
As well as classroom based learning in the newly refurbished meeting room, operatives will have the opportunity for hands on operational training within the testing hall including plant operation and maintenance, and simulations to enable fault finding and troubleshooting.
The introduction of the new facility will also increase opportunities to develop new membrane technologies to ensure the highest water quality standards - both at home and abroad. The project is currently in the design phase with the successful contractor Commissioning Solutions Scotland. Completion of construction and commissioning is anticipated by early 2021.
Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Schemes
By September 2020, Scottish Water Horizons had delivered a total of 47 solar PV schemes on Scottish Water assets, helping to offset electricity consumption, lower emissions and keep household customer bills low. Combined, these schemes currently generate around 7.2 GWh of renewable energy annually, enough to power over 1,900 homes each year.
Horizons most recent solar installation is at a Water Treatment Works at Loch Ashie which serves Inverness city and the surrounding area. With a £450,000 investment, over 1,300 ground mounted solar panels are now generating green power, helping customers enjoy fresh, clean water with a lower carbon footprint. The site also hosts an electric vehicle charging point to support the roll-out of Scottish Water’s electric fleet.
Hydro Nation Water Innovation Service (HNWIS): Supporting Innovation
HNWIS has entered the final year of the current service contract. In Year 2, HNWIS reported that the key target of engaging with 250 companies had already been achieved ahead of schedule and the service is on target with supporting companies who apply for technical support packages. Signposting, advice and/or guidance has been provided to over 100 companies.
In the last iteration of HNWIS there was a high level of demand for the service which resulted in diversion of resources away from cluster building to manage the demand from a wide range of applicants. In this iteration, we revised the approach to encompass earlier engagement and pre-screening of companies and products to ensure the service focusses on those which are more likely to achieve the primary aim of getting new innovative products or services to market more quickly. This has resulted in a higher proportion of applicants being referred to the specialist technical support packages.
Our Network Integrators (Arup) are actively engaging across the sector, providing a platform for Scottish companies to engage with other players in innovation including buyers. They are also bringing greater visibility to and engagement with UK-wide activities in innovation in the water sector. In the past year they have hosted/supported three Wet Networks events (where companies pitch to industry representatives), one of which was the first to be held in Scotland. They also hosted two Water Technology Drop-in days where companies had the opportunity to meet water specialists and three webinars held jointly with HIE and SE, one of which featured speakers addressing the impact of Covid-19 on the water sector.
Technology area companies engaged for technical support
Companies can access the service as follows:-
Tel: 0141 202 7679
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