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Western Power Distribution, South West Water project could help balance the grid

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Water companies are one of the largest consumers of electricity according to Western Power Distribution. Image credit: chekart/Shutterstock

Western Power Distribution and Smart Grid Consultancy have joined with South West Water to better balance the electrical grid during peak demand. 

According to Western Power Distribution, water companies are one of the largest energy users on the electricity network. That means they could have a major impact on the carbon intensity and cost of electricity depending on when they use most of their power. 

Through a collaboration with Western Power Distribution and Smart Grid Consultancy, South West Water will begin exploring how to be more energy efficient and flexible with its energy usage. This could see the company reduce its power use during peak times, reducing its operational costs while simultaneously improving the resilience of the local grid. 

Dubbed the FLOWERS (Flexible Operation of Water Networks Enabling Response Services) feasibility study, the project officially began last month. It could see South West Water modifying the triggers and timing of its wastewater and drinking water pumping processes to respond to the needs of the electricity network. For example, this could involve re-scheduling these processes so that they are carried out at times of lower demand to help ease constraints at peak times.

The FLOWERS project will attempt to create a new type of flexible capacity embedded in the operational process of a water company for the first time while increasing knowledge sharing between electricity and water networks.

Nick Devine, WPD Innovation Engineer, noted, “What is particularly exciting about this project is that it is the first of its kind in terms of us working with a water utility and a first step towards the collaborative delivery of innovation projects going forwards.

“We intend this project to be the first in a series where water and electricity distribution networks come together to deliver decarbonisation and net zero for customers by identifying new energy efficiencies. It will get the ball rolling for ED2 (2023 – 28) when we plan to work even more closely with other industries to meet the whole system challenges ahead.”

Angus Berry, Head of Energy at South West Water, added, “We have ambitious plans to transform the way we operate as a business to not only reduce, but to reverse our carbon emissions. This pioneering partnership is a great example of how through collaborative working, we can identify innovative solutions for reducing our energy consumption and reaching net zero.”

The new project feeds into South West Water’s ambitious plans to reach net zero operational carbon emissions by 2030. The company has also committed to plant 250,000 trees by 2025 and decarbonise their fleet, switching to a 100% electric car and van fleet by 2030.

A final report and recommendation document for the project is expected to be produced in November 2022. The project is partly funded by the Network Innovation Allowance.

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