Net zero drive for the Scottish water sector

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Hydro Nation Chair team standing by reservoir

A new Scotland Hydro Nation initiative launching on World Water Day today, 22 March, aims to drive Scotland’s water sector to net zero and beyond by 2040.

The Hydro Nation Chair Research & Innovation Programme, hosted by the University of Stirling and funded by Scottish Water through the Scottish Funding Council, will bring research, industry and communities together to harness new technologies and build the infrastructures necessary for a just transition to net zero in Scotland.

Professor Andrew Tyler
Professor Andrew Tyler
Scotland Hydro Nation Chair
We are already feeling the effects of climate change through water, in flooding and drought, yet water also holds many of the solutions we need.

Scotland Hydro Nation Chair, Professor Andrew Tyler, of the University of Stirling, said: “We are already feeling the effects of climate change through water, in flooding and drought, yet water also holds many of the solutions we need.

“How we manage Scotland’s seas, lochs, rivers and reservoirs can bolster our resilience to extreme events, restore biodiversity and increase our carbon storage – speeding up our journey to net zero.

“Water can also help us manage our resources better, allowing us to recover energy for example, contributing to a greener, more circular economy whilst creating jobs. But for this to happen, industry, research and communities must work together.”

Driving collaboration

Professor Tyler will lead a team of six fellows who will find and lead collaborative opportunities throughout the water sector. Research Leader Fellows from Heriot-Watt University, the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow Caledonian University and the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology will build research programmes around four areas: eliminating emissions from infrastructure, driving down process emissions, enhancing the natural environment and embracing the circular economy.

Hydro Nation Chair team standing by dam

Some of the Hydro Nation Chair team: L-R Deryck Irving (innovation), Dr Amy Pickard (research - UK Centre for Hydrology & Ecology), Professor Andrew Tyler (Chair - University of Stirling), Dr Fiona Millar (programme manager - Stirling), David Millar (innovation)

Two innovation fellows based at the University of Stirling will link research and industry to develop commercially viable solutions to water challenges, and work with communities on place-based innovation within water catchments.

A series of online crucible events will kick off the collaborative work, beginning on April 19 with process emissions.

Transforming the Scottish water sector

George Ponton, Head of Research and Innovation at Scottish Water, said: “The Hydro Nation Chair programme has been established to bring thought leadership and research excellence from academia in Scotland and beyond; focused on addressing the key challenges facing the water sector in Scotland. 

“The programme is intended to complement the excellent research and innovation initiatives and infrastructure in Scotland.  It will play a leading role in maximising Scotland’s water research impact, bringing the transformative change needed to attain net zero emissions by 2040. 

“The funding that we have provided to establish the Chair will be a catalyst to build on the great reputation that the Scottish research community has and for Scotland and the public water service model to become internationally recognised as a leader in water research and innovation.”

Scotland: The Hydro Nation 

The Hydro Nation Chair R & I programme is part of Scotland: The Hydro Nation - a Scottish Government initiative that aims to develop the value of water resources so as to bring the maximum benefit to the Scottish economy and society.

Environment Minister Mairi McAllan said: “World Water Day is an opportunity to shine a light on water and how it underpins everything we do, the wider work across the sector and how society and individuals interact with this precious resource.

“It is testimony to the efforts of everyone working in the field that long-overlooked water issues now have their fully-deserved prominence in the global discourse on climate change.  After all, it is through water that climate changes impacts are perhaps most keenly felt.

“In aid of Scotland’s vision to be the world’s first Hydro Nation, we will continue to support and encourage individuals and communities to protect this precious resource, as well as supporting the water industry’s drive to Net Zero emissions. Research and innovation, like this initiative led by the University of Stirling, will be an important factor in helping us achieve our vision.”

Other ‘Scotland: The Hydro Nation’ programmes include the Hydro Nation Scholars, researchers across Scottish institutions supported by the Centre of Expertise for Waters at the James Hutton Institute; the UNESCO Centre for Water Law, Policy and Science at the University of Dundee, which seeks to create an active community of water researchers across Scotland, and the Hydro Nation International Centre (HNIC), also based at the James Hutton Institute, which collaborates globally to grow the international water economy.

The Hydro Nation Chair R & I programme launches as part of a Scotland Hydro Nation hybrid event organised by the HNIC, Realising the Benefits of Scotland’s Waters, for World Water Day on March 22, 2022.

More information about the Hydro Nation Chair can be found on the HNC website.