The Dŵr Uisce project aims to improve the long-term sustainability of water supply, treatment and end-use in Ireland and Wales through the development of innovative technology platforms, undertaking economic and environmental impact assessments, and developing policy and best practice guidelines to facilitate integrated low-carbon and smart energy solutions for the water sector. The technology will be trialled in both nations before being launched on the commercial market. The project also aims to build the capacity for innovation in the water industry by investigating how new practices can meet the challenges faced in Wales and Ireland due to environmental and climate change. The Dŵr Uisce project is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the Ireland Wales Co-operation programme 2014-2020.
Researchers from Trinity College Dublin are leading the Dŵr Uisce project, partnering with Bangor University. The five-year, multidisciplinary project has secured funds through the EU’s Ireland-Wales co-operation programme. The Welsh Government Finance Secretary, Mark Drakeford said: “Dŵr Uisce is an exciting project with significant potential for the water industry in Wales and Ireland, so it’s excellent news that this partnership between Bangor University and Trinity College Dublin is underway. Backed by £2m of EU funds, this is a good example of how the Ireland-Wales programme is bringing together organisations from both nations to work on collaborative projects that address common challenges.”
The project will be led by Dr Aonghus McNabola and Professor Biswajit Basu from Trinity’s School of Engineering, Professor Paul Coughlan from the Trinity Business School, and Dr A. Prysor Williams from the School of Environment, Natural Resources and Geography from Bangor University.
The Dŵr Uisce project kick-off commenced on the 7th of October 2016, where the full day event was attended by academics, practitioners, innovators, and end-users from 23 various organizations. Tom Baur, Senior Specialist in Cleantech Finance and Engineering, from EIP Water, as a guest speaker at the kick-off event, said: “There are various linkages between this project and EIP in Water, moving forward we would like to be able to link the clusters within this project and the ones we have in our market place.”
Dr Aonghus McNabola said: “The launch of this project today aims to engage the participating organizations in what we are doing in energy saving in the water sector. We would like to encourage more SME activities within the water sector in Ireland and Wales. The Dŵr Uisce project will make significant advances in improving energy efficiency in this sector and so will have important environmental and economic impacts on the region.” The Dŵr Uisce project is the first to be funded under the new Ireland-Wales programme. It will specifically benefit people and communities within the south-east region of Ireland and the north and west of Wales, through potential reductions in the cost of water supply for end-users. Dŵr and Uisce are the Welsh and Irish words for ‘water.’
Dr Prysor Williams, who leads the Environment theme of the project, from Bangor University, said: “It is particularly illuminating for me to have the opportunity to discuss with various industries to discover the current development of technologies within the water industry, and we would like to capitalize on that through this project.”
The kick-off event began with a welcome and opening address by the Dean of Research from Trinity College Dublin, Prof John Boland. This was followed by a project overview presentation, including detailed description of the various themes within the project, namely Environmental Impact & Climate Change, Engineering Technology, and Networking & Innovation. All 40 attendees were given the opportunity to express their objectives and motivation in a networking session in the attempt to provide an opportunity to collaborate and share knowledge.
Welsh Water and National Trust Wales are the providers of demonstration sites for the technology development within this project, where details of their sites, the Five Fords Energy Park in Wrexham and the Penryhn Castle in Bangor, respectively, were shared with the participants. This was followed up with a breakout session led by the representatives from both organizations, discussing possible collaboration and technology development.
Dr Mike Pedley, Head of Energy of Welsh Water said: “We are here to offer a demonstration site for this project, where various aspects of this project can be helpful to us. We are interested in technology providers, and also the research within the Engineering theme within the project.”
Paul Southall, the Environmental Advisor and Heat Technical Specialist of National trust Wales, said: “There are potentials in this project not only for our operations, but also for the state, and the community that we represent.”
The kick-off event also saw the presence of a number of representatives from the funders of the project, such as the Welsh Government (WEFO) and the Southern Regional Assembly. Both Bethan Thomas of WEFO and Breda Curran of SRA shared the opinion that one clear benefit of the Dŵr Uisce project points to an increased innovation in SMEs.
The kick off was concluded with a questionnaire for the participants addressing their individual and organizational needs and expectations within the scope of the project, where the information will be used to organize appropriate workshops and short courses moving forward. Further, participants were encouraged to suggest other SMEs and businesses relevant to Dŵr Uisce in order to achieve a target of 100 users within the project in 2021.