Bude company and Scottish university combine for global impact

The University of Strathclyde and Bude-based Cornish firm, Water Powered Technologies based at King’s Hill, have been awarded funding by the UK Research and Innovation Industrial Strategy to work in Africa using innovative zero energy pump and store solutions.

The project will develop and deliver a new micro pumped hydro system to support communities’ low carbon energy generation while increasing female employment and climate resilience all excellent aspirations.

The funding is part of Innovate UK’s Energy Catalyst Programme supported by the UK Government’s Department of International Development (DFID). It supports UK-based businesses to develop highly innovative, market-focused energy technologies. Wonderful to see that Bude is ahead of the game through companies like this.

Energy sustainability is based on cost, emissions and security – so the Energy Catalyst is specifically interested in projects that tackle the challenges these pose. It also helps businesses to develop and commercialise their ideas much more quickly than they otherwise would.

The Energy Catalyst’s ultimate goal is to help the UK meet its target to generate 15% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020 and put the UK at the forefront of this growing sector.

The Bude company focuses on water pumping systems that use no electricity or fuel, only using the natural power of flowing water.

Their core product, the Papa Pump, was developed as a modern version of the Ram Pump, using hi-tech materials and a patented new valve which has enabled the pump to be more efficient while being smaller and more reliable.

The simplicity of design, ease of installation and its reliability has made it more affordable and accessible to farmers and communities across the world. Applications include agriculture, water utility and hydro power sectors. The world water crisis and an increasing awareness of the importance of sustainability, has increased the relevance of the Papa Pump and attracted international interest.

The University of Strathclyde has worked in the hydro power sector for many years including working with WPT on large scale zero energy pumping. They are pleased to announce the ‘kick off’ of this exciting joint project to install innovative water pumping and storage solutions across Southern Africa, focusing on Uganda and Malawi.

The project will include a study in how women and other potentially excluded groups within each community can be directly involved in choosing how the stored water is used for energy or food production.

Phil Selwyn, Technical Director, Water Powered Technologies Ltd explained:

 “With 1000s of working systems globally, we have designed our Papa Pump so that communities can install and operate it themselves over many years with no or very little maintenance. It is exciting to win the support to develop these systems. It will help countries in Africa which are the most exposed to more intense rainfall and longer, drier periods and enable them to maximise their low carbon power generation and store water for food.” 


Dr Doug Bertram, Director of the University of Strathclyde’s Engineering Department added:


“ Not only is this project focused on developing a new technical solution so that the Papa Pump can work in many more countries, but also on a ‘business model innovation’ which can attract impact investor support to roll out across each country and across Africa, so that, with lower cost irrigation, communities can grow a lot more food for themselves.” 

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