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Water companies are some of the largest consumers of energy in the UK. The processes of treating water, pumping clean water to homes and businesses and managing waste are energy intensive and the greenhouse gas emissions from this intensive energy consumption add up. Government scrutiny on power-intensive industries, such as water, is intense as the UK faces a potential energy-gap-crisis as fossil-fuelled power stations are closed amid plans to end all coal-fired generation by 2025. Among rising demand for electricity, the UKs own natural reserves are dwindling, increasing reliance on imported sources and interconnections with other European countries during politically uncertain times.

As the water sector is one that requires a lot of power, but is flexible about when it is used, water companies are ideal candidates for demand modelling. This is a practice which helps suppliers schedule energy-intensive operations to take place when demand and prices are at their lowest, therefore helping reduce the country’s peak energy consumption. Making use of the demand-side response options available such as Frequency Response and adjusting consumption in real-time to help balance the grid carries significant financial incentives for water companies, such as lower energy prices.

“The various demand-side response mechanisms provided by suppliers in conjunction with National Grid present both financial and environmental benefits to water suppliers” explains Mark Hinton, Business Optimisation Director at Servelec Technologies. “Aside from being good global citizens, water companies can generate lower prices for themselves by automatically adjusting their consumption in real-time or avoiding operations that require most energy during peak times. By using an optimising system to determine energy usage and automatically schedule operations to avoid peak times water companies can save money by exploiting dynamic flexible tariffs while ensuring security of supply and regulatory compliance.

“Participating in demand-side response makes perfect sense for any business that is serious about being environmentally responsible and with the scrutiny placed on emissions by the Government and regulators, UK water companies must consider the options available, while balancing their security of supply.”

One of the options suitable to water companies is Frequency Response. National Grid is regulated to maintain a frequency of +/- 1% of 50Hz at all times, which is a considerable challenge when frequency is a continuously changing variable determined and controlled by the second-by-second balance between system demand and total energy generation. If demand is greater than generation, the frequency falls, while if generation is greater than demand, the frequency rises. As water companies are demanding of the energy within the grid, understanding their usage and being able to act on the information in near real-time is hugely beneficial.

Mark added: “To be able to understand a complex network of assets, such as those operated by a water company, specialist tools are required. Water companies produce terabytes of telemetry data every hour, but without the tools to harness and act on the data, much of its value is lost.

Servelec Technologies’ end-to-end automated control solution

Fig 1.0 Servelec Technologies’ end-to-end automated control solution.

“At Servelec Technologies we specialise in providing end-to-end telemetry hardware and software solutions which collect and exploit data.  OptiMISER, our real-time automated water network control system is one solution that can enable water companies to take advantage of demand-side response mechanisms. OptiMISER is proven to reduce operating costs by using the latest tariff information and optimises network operations in near real-time. As energy tariffs become more and more dynamic, changing on a daily or even hourly basis, water companies will need a solution that instantaneously reacts to price changes to generate the most benefit from the flexibility in their network.”

OptiMISER is embedded into a water company’s control room environment and integrates with existing SCADA top-end systems such as Servelec’s SCOPE platform, which in turn collects telemetry data from and passes control instructions to outstations such as Servelec’s range of Seprol RTUs. 

“OptiMISER doesn’t just review current energy prices to make decisions,” comments Hinton, “it continually reviews all available network data and makes forecasts using predictive modelling, managing supply and ensuring that water quality targets and network constraints are met, ultimately improving the service to customers.”

Mark Hinton is a Director at Servelec Technologies, a leading provider of end-to-end data collection, control and optimisation solutions to the UK water industry. Mark is responsible for the business optimisation team providing specialist water sector software solutions to clients in the UK and globally. Prior to deciding to join in 2015 he was mostly recently a Client Director at Atkins in the water ground and environment division and has worked for over 30 years in international business management and development. Click here to connect with Mark on LinkedIn.

Putting customers first is at the heart of Ofwat’s PR19 methodology, which defines a clear requirement for suppliers to seek innovations in order to deliver better customer service and affordable prices for all. Aside from the obvious potential efficiencies that innovative practice brings, those companies whose business plans show significant ambition and innovation for customers will be awarded ‘exceptional status’ and a financial reward of 0.2% of return on regulatory equity (RORE). Servelec Technologies believes adopting an end-to-end approach to automated water network control will be the cornerstone of water companies’ approach during PR19 as they strive to realise business plan incentives provided by regulator Ofwat.

Servelec leads the water industry in the development of software to assist with business optimisation and asset planning. Our end-to-end automated water network control and optimisation solution consists of market-leading WITS-certified telemetry devices, an enterprise level secure SCADA platform and state-of-the-art real-time optimisation software. For more information about Servelec Technologies’ solutions for the water industry, visit www.servelectechnologies.com or email sales@servelectechnologies.com.