Technology powers Scottish Water's emission reduction journey, transforming pumping stations and paving the way to net-zero goals

Technology powers Scottish Water's emission reduction journey, transforming pumping stations and paving the way to net-zero goals

As part of its commitment to reaching net-zero emissions by 2040, Scottish Water has partnered with Xylem to upgrade hundreds of pumping stations with sustainable technology. In an initial trial, the Flygt Concertor pumping system reduced unplanned maintenance by 99.8% and cut energy use by up to 60%. The Xylem Avensor digital monitoring service for pump stations has also significantly reduced reactive callouts.

Scottish Water, Scotland's publicly owned water supplier, provides essential water and wastewater services to more than 2.6 million homes and 150,000 business premises. In 2019, Scottish Water committed to net-zero emissions by 2040, a full five years earlier than the Scottish Government’s plan to achieve net-zero emissions for the entire nation.

“Scotland takes pride in its environment and outdoor spaces, so at Scottish Water, we set an ambitious plan to reduce the carbon emissions and environmental impact of our operations,” says Nathan Wield, Wastewater Operations West Manager for Scottish Water. “Moving and treating wastewater is incredibly energy intensive, so anything we can do will have a big impact on the net-zero goals of both Scottish Water and the country.”

Scottish Water’s Net Zero Emissions Route Map focuses on renewable energy and heavy investment in innovative, green technology. In 2019, Scottish Water began working with Xylem to trial the Flygt Concertor pumping system in a few pumping stations, with the goal of reducing wastewater energy consumption and reactive callouts.

Targeting the worst performing pump stations

“As an equipment provider, we've always had a very close working relationship with Scottish Water,” says Alan Black, Sales Manager for Xylem in Scotland. “We asked them for a list of their poorest performing pump stations, in terms of wasting time and resource on unplanned callouts. After a couple of installations, their confidence in Concertor grew since the product did exactly what it was supposed to do – reducing 99% of the unplanned maintenance events.”

Flygt Concertor has built-in sump and pipe cleaning, as well as Xylem’s Adaptive N-technology to detect and resolve clogging. The pump can also automatically adapt its performance to changing flow rates, and it has a Super Premium IE4 equivalent motor, all of which can reduce energy use by up to 70%.

“After the successful trial of Concertor, and understanding the energy saving that came with it, this led to more trials and then eventually wider adoption,” Wield says. “Today we have about 300 Concertor pumps installed across Scotland, with many more to come.”

Adding remote visibility to pump stations

With the launch of Avensor in 2020, Xylem’s digital solution for pump station monitoring, Scottish Water saw an additional opportunity to make its operations more efficient. Avensor collects, analyzes, and transmits pump station data through the cloud, giving operators real-time performance insights. So far Avensor has been installed in about 90 pump stations for Scottish Water, with more being added every month.

“The visibility that Avensor gives us is brilliant,” Wield says. “We use the Avensor app to view a pump stations performance before we go to the site, and if everything is going well, we might not even need to go there at all."

"We can check the health of our stations without having to drive around to each one, which saves us a lot of time and reduces emissions. It’s a proactive tool that enables us to respond to something at the right time, instead of just hoping to catch it through a routine visit.”

When implementing new technology, as part of a digital transformation to meet sustainability goals, Wield says that ease of use for operators is critical.

“If the technology is designed right, and it’s easy for operators to access and use, then it can be easy for operators to adopt,” he says. “It’s when we make it complex and cumbersome that you get pushback and rejection. With Avensor, everything makes sense, and even the graphics are easy to understand. At a glance, operators can see the pump performance, the well level, and all the information they need.”

Insights on implementing a net-zero plan

As part of its continuous work to reduce emissions, Scottish Water has a dedicated Energy Efficiency Team responsible for delivering energy-efficient new technology and processes that have a strong return on investment.

“From a wastewater perspective, having this Team is very helpful,” he says. “If a new pump or blower is needed, they can flesh out the business case and suggest energy-efficient options. This means that everything doesn’t have to rest on the shoulders of team leaders, who are delivering compliance and minimizing downtime. With this group integrated with Wastewater Operations, we can all work together towards the same goals.”

While achieving net-zero emissions by 2040 might seem daunting, Wield says it’s possible.

“Wastewater is probably a bit behind the curve in the water sector when it comes to implementing new technologies,” he says. “But this also means there are bigger opportunities to make a difference. When we can upgrade our assets, and work more efficiently, that can lead to massive improvements.”

Scottish Water will continue to work with Xylem to upgrade its pumping stations with Flygt Concertor and Avensor technology.

“Now when we need to replace pumps, we’ll be considering Concertor as our pump of choice,” Wield says. “We’re also looking into how we can use Avensor to get insights into some of our bigger pumping stations. Xylem has been very responsive to our needs, and they have made adjustments to their solutions to help us work even more efficiently. We’re looking forward to continuing to collaborate with Xylem to meet our net-zero goal.”

Learn more about the Flygt Concertor pumping system

Learn more about Xylem Avensor digital monitoring service for pump stations.