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  • by Trevor Loveday

UK among early takers of global "no-risk" trial funding loan

Yorkshire Water is among the earliest takers of a global loan scheme to fund trials of innovative emission-reduction technologies on the basis that “the loan is only repaid if the trial is a success.”


The scheme dubbed the Trial Reservoir was launched in November last year by innovation consultancy Isle Utilities, aims to “save 120,000 tonnes of carbon emissions a year by driving water innovation,” according to Isle. Isle said Trial Reservoir counters instances where innovation was going ignored through risk aversion or being shelved due to costs.


According to Isle’s head of the Trial Reservoir, Dr Jo Burgess, Trial Reservoir is “unique” because it enables borrowers “to adopt technology with minimal financial risk, while simultaneously guiding and supporting trials from start to finish and ensuring best scientific practice is adopted. The loan must only be repaid if the trial is a success.” Isle said repaid loans are recycled into further trials.


A sludge handling system developed by France-based Orege is being trialled by Yorkshire Water. Oege’s product – Seamer – dewaters sludge to decrease its volume by up to two thirds and so reduce energy consumption, without, the manufacturer says, compromising the sludge’s capacity to be pumped along treatment networks.


Isle said loans are provided under an agreement between the technology seller and the user that specifies the trial’s key performance indicators and the user’s purchase of the technology if the trial meets those indicators. “The parameters for ‘success’ are bespoke to each trial and agreed by the vendor and end-user before the trial begins,” said Isle. It added: “Before each trial, Isle’s team works with end-user and vendor to identify a suitable trial location and format. Isle undertakes due diligence of the technology, vendor and user, and administers legal documentation and loan payments.”


Isle’s objectives for the Trial Reservoir include to:

  • accelerate the industry towards net zero carbon by supporting more than ten trials each year through to implementation;

  • deploy £1m a year in trials;

  • achieve a success rate of six out of ten trials and 70% by amount invested; and

  • reduce pilot-to-implementation time by 80%.

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