Utilities
Digital Solutions
Europe
Wednesday, 10 November 2021

Anglian Water wins big in Ofwat's Water Breakthrough Challenge

UK water utility Anglian Water and its partners have won funding from England and Wales water regulator Ofwat as part of its Water Breakthrough Challenge for two projects that they submitted.

Two times the charm

UK water utility Anglian Water and its partners have won funding from England and Wales water regulator Ofwat as part of its Water Breakthrough Challenge for two projects that they submitted.

The first project that successfully won funding was the Safe Smart Systems: an artificial intelligence (AI) solution to improve long-term operational resilience against climate change and accelerated population growth.

In partnership with Jacobs, Skanska, Imperial College, Airbus Defence and Space, Microsoft and the University of Sheffield, as well water utilities including South West Water, Portsmouth Water and Affinity Water, the Safe Smart Systems project won £7.5 million.

"The Water Breakthrough Challenge has led to the formation of exciting partnerships.”

The second proposal Anglian Water and its partners put forward was the Triple Carbon Reduction project: using new technologies to target a step-change reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and electricity use, used in water treatment.

They aim to provide a new renewable energy source through green hydrogen production – 'triple carbon' synergy to contribute towards achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2030.

In partnership with Oxymem, Element Energy Ltd, Jacobs, Cranfield University, University of East Anglia, Brunel University, and other water utilities including Severn Trent Water, Scottish Water, Northern Ireland Water and United Utilities, the Triple Carbon Reduction project won over £3.5 million.

John Russell, senior director of Ofwat, speaking about this year's recipients said: "The Water Breakthrough Challenge has led to the formation of exciting partnerships with water companies to improve services for customers and improve the environmental footprint of the sector."

Calling for collaboration

One of the main objectives of Ofwat's Water Breakthrough Challenge is to create a collaborative water sector that does not work in silo on similar projects.

Instead, this challenge is seeking to bring the sector together, with multiple water utilities working collectively with independent partners and university bodies on these projects to share resources.

Fionn Boyle, shop window manager at Anglian Water, told Aquatech Online: “This funding will enable us to deliver a step-change in water sector collaboration on present and future resilience challenges."

“By embracing smart solutions, we can predict, manage, and ultimately prevent leaks, supply interruptions and pressure issues in a more joined-up way than has ever been possible before.”


Fionn Boyle speaking at Aquatech Amsterdam 2021.

The Safe Smart Systems that Anglian Water won along with fellow water companies South West Water, Portsmouth Water and Affinity Water, will work together to build an AI water management system that will identify, predict, and manage vulnerabilities to reduce leakage, interruptions, and pressure issues across the whole water cycle.

The primary goal of the project is augmenting the long-term operational resilience of water system through better prediction and management of vulnerabilities within the water system, via increased automation and integrating SMART technologies.

The Safe Smart Systems aims to be the first step to achieving autonomous control in water systems across the UK.

"By embracing smart solutions, we can predict, manage, and ultimately prevent leaks, supply interruptions and pressure issues in a more joined-up way than has ever been possible before, protecting our environment and enhancing customer experience.” Boyle went on to say of the Safe Smart System.

Looking forward to the sequel

With the first Ofwat Breakthrough Challenge at an end, nine projects in total received a share of £36 million but it has set the foundations for a much-anticipated sequel for water innovations.

A second Water Breakthrough Challenge opened on 11 October 2021 to provide funding for further innovative water sector initiatives. In total, £35 million will be available to be shared between entries that deliver benefits for water customers, society and the environment.

Arlene Good, innovation and infrastructure adviser for Arup, said: "We’re looking forward to seeing how the water sector continues to step up to the challenge, with more partnerships established to deliver breakthrough solutions that benefit both consumers and the environment.”

 


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