One of the most significant costs in water production is electricity. The National Federation of Group Water Schemes and Wexford County Council recognised that water suppliers needed to be encouraged to become more efficient in their energy consumption and avail of new technologies, where they exist, to reduce reliance on carbon-based energy. Both organisations became aware of a European-funded project, co-ordinated by Trinity College Dublin and Bangor University (Wales), called DWR Uisce. This project aimed to harness energy from high pressure in the water network, using a pump as turbine, and using the energy recovered to help power the scheme’s treatment plant (Figure 1). The project is the first of its kind in Ireland and, as a result, provided opportunities to trial new technologies, monitor its success, and provide a demonstration site to
other water providers that might be interested in implementing the same treatment.
Following a series of feasibility studies facilitated by GWS’s in County Wexford, the Blackstairs GWS was identified as a scheme with the most potential to harness and recover energy. Both the Rural Water Liaison
Officer and the Engineer for Wexford County Council worked with the National Federation of Group Water Schemes, the Blackstairs GWS committee and the DWR Uisce team to progress the project. Wexford
County Council was able to provide technical assistance on the GWS network and associated infrastructure and pressures, as well as providing advice on the procurement process. A pump as turbine was installed at a suitable location on the site earlier this year and has been operating successfully. The site was officially launched in May 2019 as ademonstration site for the project.
Figure 1: Blackstairs GWS hydropower technology.
Benefits of solution
This project saw the successful installation of hydropower technology on the Blackstairs GWS and, in turn, a reduction in CO2 emissions. It is an example of an innovative way in which a GWS can lessen its reliance on
carbon-based energy and reduce its carbon footprint.
It is currently estimated that the GWS will require 4kW/day less electricity from the national grid as a result of installing this device. There will be a cost saving of €6,000 per annum to the GWS in the reduction of pumping
costs. The GWS has decided that any cost savings will be donated to a water-related charity.2
The National Federation of Group Water Schemes believes this to be an excellent example of how communities, local authorities and academia can work effectively together towards implementing effective climate change solutions.