The importance of having a Cluster dedicated to the “Water Smart Industry” theme by Geoff Townsend (Leader of the WssTP Cluster Theme ‘Water Smart Industry’)
Why is it important to have a Cluster dedicated to the theme ‘Water Smart Industry’?
Water is a business imperative – a strategic resource that enables growth, profitability and competitiveness of European industry. Consequently, challenges in supply, delivery and quality pose a relentless risk to corporations making the identification and management of these crucial to building operational resilience. In many regions, the rate of growth of water-related risks is far outpacing the efforts being made to mitigate those risks. This ever-widening disparity is attracting the attention of investors, shareholders and regulators. Superimposed on the macro trends that drive water scarcity is the growing inability to withstand local events, whether droughts or more frequent catastrophic storms that disrupt water supplies.
The industrial water-energy nexus is also an important factor. It’s no coincidence that the industrial sectors with the highest water use (power production and manufacturing) also contribute 53% of the total carbon dioxide emissions in Europe. Addressing sub-optimal performance in these water systems can make a significant contribution to emission reduction.
How is the Cluster ‘Water Smart Industry’ going to drive the way to the implementation of the WssTP Water Vision 2030?
The Cluster will help drive connectivity between the working groups and industry providing greater clarity on innovation needs and deployment opportunities aligned to the Value of Water framework. To this end, it is important that we enhance the engagement with operational teams within industry and their decision makers. The Cluster will also facilitate the setting up of living labs focussed on assessing technologies that support best available techniques as well as those that foster collaboration between the Clusters.
A key ambition of the Cluster is to go beyond addressing water risks to develop a strategy that truly embraces business opportunities so as to create greater value and impact for a business and stakeholders. In essence, industrial engagement needs to be energised by promoting water strategies that support business stratagems. This will ensure water quality and scarcity are factored into decisions that protect current operations and support business growth.
What are the key actions the Cluster has identified to bring research and innovations from the SIRA to the market?
The WssTP SIRA strategy is aimed at creating and supporting robust new technologies, funding/financing, business models and partnerships. Ultimately, confidence to invest in these is predicated on having robust, evidence-based water quantity and quality targets founded on a thorough understanding of the local context. Understanding the fundamental obstacles to truly sustainable water use at this level is essential and is likely to be the rate-limiting step on technology adoption. Consequently, specific actions associated with bringing the SIRA to the market must reflect this and the interconnectivity between innovation, collaboration and advocacy.
To see the full integrity of Geoff Townsend’s latest interview and WssTP Newsletter Summer 2018, click on the joint link.