Severn Trent wins Ofwat’s Water Breakthrough Challenge 

Thursday 28th April 2022

An innovative project to reduce and reuse CO2 emissions from Combined Heat and Power engines has been named a winner of Ofwat’s second Water Breakthrough Challenge.

The English and Welsh water regulator has awarded £3.7m to Severn Trent in partnership with Clarke Energy, Carbon Capture Machine, Brunel University, United Utilities, Southern Water and Scottish Water for its CECCU (CHP Exhaust Carbon Capture and Utilisation) project.

The project will turn carbon into useful products like paint and fertiliser, saving five million tonnes of CO2 per year and making the Combined Heat and Power (CHP) process – where heat as a byproduct of renewable energy generated is captured and used – carbon neutral.The water sector has a long history of renewable energy generation, significantly reducing reliance on grid-imported electricity, benefitting the environment, and keeping customer bills low.

To extract the renewable energy, biogas is combusted in CHP engines and this releases unavoidable CO2 emissions.  This project will develop new technology to reduce and reuse CO2 emissions from CHPs.

Richard Walwyn, Head of Asset Intelligence and Innovation, Severn Trent said, “Together with our partners Clarke Energy, Carbon Capture Market and Brunel University, we could unlock a key technological innovation on the race to Net Zero.  This project will trial new technology at a Severn Trent Water site in Derby to remove carbon from Combined Heat and Power (CHP) exhausts and turn it into eco-friendly products - the net zero, circular economy in action.”

The second Water Breakthrough Challenge is part of a series of innovation competitions made possible by Ofwat’s £200m Water Innovation Fund. It is delivered by Nesta Challenges, Arup and Isle Utilities.

The fund helps stimulate new innovations, enabling the water sector to better meet the evolving needs of customers, society and the environment.

John Russell, Senior Director, Strategy, Finance and Infrastructure at Ofwat said:“It's crucial for the water sector to come up with new, innovative ideas to fix the challenges that the sector – and society – faces. The winners revealed today will help develop ideas to save more water, turn captured carbon into useful products, and – ultimately – make the sector more sustainable.

"Ofwat’s Innovation Fund, which provides the prize money for these competitions, exists to help stimulate new and bold initiatives by water companies working in partnership with universities, charities, engineering practices and technology firms. We have much to learn from other sectors and the winners of this round of the competition showcase just how much can be achieved when we collaborate."

To find out more about the winners of the Water Breakthrough Challenge and Ofwat’s innovation fund, visit