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One Thousand Solar Panels Installed at Capital Water Works

One thousand solar panels have been installed at a major water treatment works serving Edinburgh and parts of West Lothian - continuing Scottish Water’s switch to renewable energy for the benefit of its customers, the Scottish economy and the environment.

A quarter of the energy required at Marchbank Water Treatment Works near Balerno, which serves 68,000 properties, is now provided by the solar panels.

The solar panels are capable of generating 0.2GWh of electricity per annum. The treatment works currently produces 40 mega litres of water per day - enough to fill 16 Olympic swimming pools. This means that 17,000 properties in parts of western and Southern Edinburgh and areas of West Lothian now receive drinking water which has been treated thanks to the power of the sun.

This is the latest in a series of highly successful projects delivered by Scottish Water Horizons, a subsidiary of the public utility, which supports the development of a sustainable economy in Scotland.

Chris Toop, General Manager for Scottish Water’s energy programme, said:

“Every day, Scottish Water provides our customers with a massive 1.34 billion litres of drinking water and then treats over 840 million litres of waste water. This means we currently need around 440GWh of electricity annually around Scotland - more than is likely to be needed by the entire of population of West Lothian.

“Electricity, as any consumer will know, can be expensive and that’s why Scottish Water has been working to reduce the amount of energy that we need to purchase.

“Installing solar panels is therefore fantastic news for our customers. It’s one of the ways in which we can help to keep our customer charges lower than the UK average, while aspiring to deliver ever better service.

“The solar panels at Marchbank Water Treatment Works make this vital facility serving Edinburgh and West Lothian increasingly self efficient.

“All our efforts across Scottish Water have helped to reduce base electricity consumption by over 5% in the last five years, while carbon emissions have fallen by 18% since 2006/07.

“We are confident that the installation of solar panels will enable us to continue to reduce energy consumption and ultimately keep costs low for our customers.”

Donald MacBrayne, Commercial Manager of Scottish Water Horizons, added:

“This project is all part of our wider efforts to maximise the value of Scotland’s water resources and assets.

“Through use of technologies such as solar panels and hydro turbines in pipes, several of our treatment works can now generate all - and in some cases more - of the energy they need to operate. This is helping to reduce our energy costs for the benefit of customers while contributing to renewable energy targets.”

Scottish Water received a Scottish Green Energy Award for its work ‘Renewing Scotland’ last December (2015).

Stephanie Clark, Policy Manager at industry body Scottish Renewables, which organises the awards, said: “Scottish Water’s efforts to reduce its energy use are to be applauded.

“It will surprise many that the electricity generation potential of a solar PV array in Scotland is very similar, if not better than, one in central or northern England or parts of Wales.

“Solar in Scotland is quite counter-intuitive, but advances in solar panel design and the falling cost of the technology means there is significant potential for the technology north of the border, particularly at locations like water treatment works, which have high on-site energy usage.”

In the last two years, Scottish Water has doubled the amount of renewable energy which can be generated at treatment works and in water mains to over 50GWh.

There are now 27 hydro turbines which harness the natural flow of water through their pipes to produce electricity, as well as several wind and photovoltaic schemes. Energy is also extracted from sewage sludge, reducing transport of materials off-site and increasing the environmental sustainability of the company’s operations.  More than 4,000 smart meters have been installed to measure consumption and target opportunities to use less energy.  Scottish Water is also making the most of its redundant assets to assist with electricity generation.

Scottish Water Horizons also own and operate a food waste recycling plant near Cumbernauld. The first large scale plant of its kind in Scotland, the plant transforms food waste using anaerobic digestion technology into biogas which is then used to generate electricity - enough to power around 2,000 homes.


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