Utilities urged to dive into the Trial Reservoir

A ground-breaking project has launched to help water utilities better serve their customers and protect the environment by fast-tracking innovation at no cost.

A ground-breaking project has launched to help water utilities better serve their customers and protect the environment by fast-tracking innovation at no cost.

Tackling carbon emissions and improving the environment is a significant responsibility for the water industry. Not only does the sector use large amounts of energy in its operations but it also has the potential to make a substantial positive impact, for example by generating green energy from bioresources or creating floating solar arrays on reservoirs.

“I firmly believe that the vast majority of people working in the water sector want to do more, but the pace of change is too slow and we simply cannot continue as we have done,” said Dr Piers Clark, chairman of technology consultancy Isle. “Our pace to date can at best be described as genteel, and at worst is irresponsibly sleepy.”

Water utilities around the world are keen to achieve net zero carbon emissions, but adoption of new technologies can be slow, costly and inefficient.

The urgent need for innovation to address multiple and intertwined water-related challenges is becoming increasingly clear, both within the sector and right up to governmental level. There has been a response, says Clark, with cumulating sources and amounts of funding.

Nevertheless, the water sector is seen as less innovative than other sectors and can be slow to adopt and adapt to new technologies. This means the industry often undergoes multiple technology trials without successful implementation due to cost or other internal barriers.

In a bid to tackle this issue, global technology and innovation consultancy Isle announced the launch of the Trial Reservoir (TR) on 18 November 2021. The Trial Reservoir is a pool of money which Isle is giving to the water sector. It will be used to fund trials anywhere in the world for technologies which will have a beneficial environmental outcome.

“The usual process is a technology company comes to a utility promising they have a technology that can save them millions – all that is needed is a trial to prove their worth. Invariably this is where the process stalls, because the utility is interested but doesn’t have a bottomless pot of money to trial each new technology. This is where the Trial Reservoir comes in.”

This new and unique source of funding has been created specifically to help water utilities achieve carbon net zero by fast-tracking the uptake of cutting-edge technologies.

By providing technology companies with risk-free access to trial funding, TR also benefits customers and communities by enabling water utilities to adopt technology with minimal financial risk – increasing the pace of change and helping utilities move towards net zero.

The Trial Reservoir:
It is supported by a global community of sponsors and partners including investment firm Pure Terra, family fund Investment Enterprises, global engineering consultancy WSP and UK utility company United Utilities.

  • Takes 100% of the risk of technology trials
  • Provides technology companies with access to trial funding
  • Enables water utilities to adopt technology with no financial risk
  • Ensures best practice is adopted during trial programmes

If the trial is successful and meets pre-agreed achievement criteria, the utility company will adopt the technology, and the technology company then pay the money back into the Trial Reservoir pot.

The international project is intended to be evergreen as the repaid loans are recycled into further trials. It is open to technology companies working with water utilities – both public and private – and/or industrial clients.

Isle confirmed it has spoken to more than 30 utilities and has already begun trials with two UK water companies – the results of which will be made public in early 2022.

“Time is not on our side. We have a real opportunity here to change how the water sector operates,” added Clark.

To find out more about the Trial Reservoir, please visit: Trial Reservoir | Isle utilities

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