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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/T004681/1
Title: Distributed pumped hydro for transforming energy and water access
Principal Investigator: Bertram, Dr D
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Civil and Environmental Engineering
Organisation: University of Strathclyde
Scheme: Technology Programme
Starts: 01 July 2019 Ends: 30 June 2021 Value (£): 194,258
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Energy Efficiency Sustainable Energy Networks
Water Engineering
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
The Energy Catalyst (EC) 6 Pumped Hydro with Zero Energy Grid Balancing project is led by industrial partners Water Powered Technologies Ltd (WPT). It already has a clear pathway to impact, developing on a concluded EC3 Early-Stage collaboration on the technology feasibility around ram pump deployment and the experiences of deploying ram pumps at multiple locations worldwide for water supply (funded commercially or through the Scottish Government's Climate Justice Fund).

This mid-stage EC6 project focuses on integrated demonstrator development (TRL 6&7) and application in transforming energy access for community energy and water transfer needs in two sites, one in Malawi and one in Uganda. Demonstrating a successful zero-energy input Pumped Hydro Electric Storage (PHES) with operational data supported by academic research will immediately open up new customers and opportunities is a key next step on the technology's route to market.

Two specific technical objectives are focused on:

(1) Improving ram pump operational performance - The Papa pump (a hydraulic ram pump) performance will be improved through technical research and development testing the addition of the innovative Sureflow component to enhance system water efficiencies.

(2) Developing an integrated PHES capability, combined with meeting community water supply and power generation needs - PHES is the most rapid and sustainable proven renewable energy technology currently available and readily integrates with water supply networks.

"Zero energy" input PHES offers strong low-carbon options for providing water storage and supply to meet drought and environmental regulation conditions. also overcomes the limits seasonal surface water flow variabilities have on traditional 'run of river' systems. By storing excess flood water and releasing it in drought water courses can be replenished with 'compensation' flows necessary for wildlife and incomes for farmers or activities such as fishing and fish farming protection, offering wider benefits beyond being the fastest provider of electricity to homes and a renewable energy store for the local community.

WPT has designed, patented and proven a new water pump which uses just water pressure to move water 100's meters vertically and over long distances. These could allow many more opportunities for micro and mini PHES systems and agricultural use. At times of peak electricity demand water could be released from a network of lakes, generating power for the grid or specific loads. Without WPT's range of new large scale, zero energy pumping systems, distributed micro PHES has never before been even theoretically possible as it required power to fill the storage lakes or reservoirs. Therefore, it has never been seriously considered until now as a low cost/ strategic energy storage option. This EC6 project aims to challenge this through developing a successful PHES demonstrator in collaboration with key local partners (University of Makerere Uganda; and BaseFLOW, MEGA and Community Energy Malawi; Malawi) to demonstrate the potential for transforming the energy access opportunities for African communities.

Supporting this project is an essential programme of activity around gender and social role based group inclusion. It is long established that African community water needs are often focused around women and there is need to understand fully local relationships and roles to deliver the strongest possible demonstration of the value of this technology being employed as an integrated system. WPT and the University of Strathclyde have partnered with Community Insights Group, a wellknown and establish social impact assessment consultancy group, who will support research activity to establish critical roles, opportunities and solutions for transforming water and energy access for all in the demonstrator communities.
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Organisation Website: http://www.strath.ac.uk