A Scottish Water apprentice has won both Scottish and UK awards for his innovative work and presentation on generating electricity using the natural flow of water, less than a year into his job.

Inspired by a hydropower scheme at his local site in Falkirk, Zac Mooney presented his project at the Pipeline Industries Guild Professional Development Network Competition. At just 22 years old, Mooney competed against more experienced professionals and won the Scottish award, then triumphed again at the UK-wide event in Coventry.

In front of over 100 industry experts, Mooney explained how a turbine installed on a clean water main at Carron Valve Chamber would supply nearly 20% of the energy needed for the Dalderse Waste Water Treatment Works.

This innovative project, developed by Scottish Water Horizons, a commercial subsidiary of Scottish Water, aims to be one of the first in Europe where a clean water supply powers a waste water site.

Mooney expressed his gratitude: “I am thankful to have been given the opportunity to showcase my hydropower learnings so early in my Scottish Water career.

“We are committed to becoming a net zero organization by 2040, and Scottish Water Horizons is delivering many projects in line with this goal. My work has a strong focus on the environment which is something I am very passionate about.

“The support from Scottish Water Horizons has been instrumental in my development and has given me the confidence to compete at such a high level at Pipeline Industries Guild Competitions.”

John Lenehan, Scottish Water Horizons Project Manager and Mooney’s mentor, highlighted Mooney’s unique approach: “Zac distinguished himself by using a prop on stage – a small pressure reducing valve to demonstrate the power-generating potential in our pipes and flows. His winning presentation attracted significant interest from attendees, who were impressed by the carbon reduction and cost saving aspects.

“Zac has had a busy first nine months with us but has taken all these new experiences which come from a Scottish Water apprenticeship in his stride and has done brilliantly.”

Scottish Water, a publicly owned utility, has 175 apprentices across the business. Mooney’s achievements in the Horizons Hydropower Team highlight the diverse opportunities available through its apprenticeship programmes.

Rachel Bridge, Chair of the Pipeline Industries Guild, commented: “The Guild is passionate about nurturing talent and the Professional Development Network Presentation Competition provides a platform for individuals to showcase innovation, share best practice and learn together. I was delighted to attend and sit on the panel of judges for the final round of this year’s competition. Zac Mooney’s winning presentation on Harnessing the Hydropower in Pipes was a creative presentation of a circular solution harnessing energy from one process to utilise in another. It was excellent and a worthy winner.

“Zac presented confidently with interactive elements to engage the audience. We are delighted that his idea has now been shared amongst the pipeline operators in the UK and look forward to seeing this idea progress across the water networks and wider pipeline industry sectors.”