Harnessing Renewable Energy for Sustainable Water Management: The Northumbria Water Design Sprint

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Harnessing Renewable Energy for Sustainable Water Management: The Northumbria Water Design Sprint

The Northumbria Water Design Sprint, in collaboration with Siemens, Northern Power Grid, and other key players, took place at Newcastle Racecourse from July 11th to 13th earlier this year.The sprint aimed to address the challenges faced by Northumbria Water’s Lumley Pumping Station and explore opportunities to integrate renewable energy sources on-site. Alex Hunter, CEO of Sherwood Power, was invited to join the design sprint to provide expertise on energy storage.


Northumbria Water, grappling with skyrocketing energy costs and a commitment to sustainability, recently sought innovative ways to revolutionise its energy use and optimise existing sources of renewable energy.


The organisation faces a significant challenge with its Lumley Pumping Station, where although solar panels have already been installed, surplus solar energy is being sent back to the grid due to inefficient utilisation. At the same time, the organisation’s electricity costs had surged, nearly doubling from £80 million per year to £150 million per year. To tackle these issues, Northumbria Water sought a comprehensive solution that would help reduce their reliance on the national grid and let them get a handle on their costs. The third strand to their energy planning is resilience, ensuring their services operate during a power failure (for example, storm damage caused by extreme weather events).


The design sprint, which took place during the 2023 Innovation Festival, aimed to identify a reliable, clean, and long-lasting solution to store excess solar energy and decarbonise the company’s electricity consumption. The team wanted to explore how Northumbria Water could use available land near Northumbria Water’s facilities to generate and store renewable energy. 


The sprint was led by Siemens, known for its expertise in energy management and storage technologies, with support from Northern Power Grid, and input from Sherwood Power and other participants. Throughout the three days, Alex Hunter provided valuable insight on how to store renewable energy efficiently. This collaborative approach allowed for the convergence of diverse perspectives and expertise, paving the way for innovative solutions.


The design sprint led to an exciting proposal, which has been approved by Northumbria Water’s board. Now, a detailed plan is being developed to combine cutting-edge storage technology with on-site renewable energy across Northumbria Water’s facilities. The concept would see Northumbria water integrate advanced storage technologies, like Sherwood Power’s FAB, with more sources of renewable energy generation.


This holistic approach would enable Northumbria Water to optimise its electricity consumption, increase performance, reduce costs, and significantly contribute to its decarbonisation targets. The Design Sprint itself showcased the power of collaboration in driving forward sustainable solutions in the water industry.