Micro-hydropower could save the water industry millions claim academics

New research from Bangor University and Trinity College Dublin has claimed micro-hydropower could save the water industry in Wales £1m a year. 

Academics from both institutions investigated whether placing hydropower turbines within the water system could save the water industry, and water customers, money. 

The research looked at the current efficiency of water supply system, the best technology and how much it might cost, the environmental benefits, and which groups need to collaborate to enable the water industry to reap the greatest benefits from installing micro-hydropower into their systems.

The results proved positive, showing in Wales, for example that Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water could ultimately save a further £1 million every year by generating around 10 million kilowatts of electricity using micro-hydropower.

This would also prevent around 10,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas from being released into the atmosphere by the generation of electricity.

However, the project partners also appreciated the difficulties faced in delivering these benefits in the current climate. Current hydropower technology cannot yet offer the low cost compact technology needed to realise all this potential.

“The Hydro-BPT project has been insightful to say the least”, said by Dr Prysor Williams, the project lead and Co-Investigator at Bangor University’s School of Environment, Natural Resources & Geography. He added: “we hope to continue working with Trinity College Dublin, the water industry and other relevant stakeholders from across the EU in further projects that build on this work. There’s no doubt that the water industry is demonstrating an awareness of energy efficiency, and the work of the Hydro-BPT team can help them achieve a more sustainable future.”

Mike Pedley, Head of Energy from Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water, said: “At Welsh Water we already make considerable use of hydro but this project has helped bring into focus where more could be done with the right technological developments. Equipment such as pressure reducing valves are common in all water companies’ networks but none has yet to offer a viable hydro solution for the majority of these sites.”

Jamie Hailstone is a freelance journalist and author, specializing in local government, transport and energy issues