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Edinburgh water works installs 1000 solar panels

One thousand solar panels have been installed at a major water treatment works serving Edinburgh and parts of West Lothian - continuing Scottish Water's move towards renewable energy.

Scottish Water's John Sammon and Chris Toop at Marchbank WTWScottish Water's John Sammon and Chris Toop at Marchbank WTW

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.

It is the latest energy project 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.”

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. It has 27 hydro turbines 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. The utility has reduced its base electricity consumption by over 5% in the last five years, while carbon emissions have fallen by 18% since 2006/07.

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.”

Author: James Brockett,
Topic: Energy/Water Nexus , Sustainability & social value
Tags: Scotland , Edinburgh , solar , energy

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