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Scottish Water produces more of its power from renewables

By Staff Reporter

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Scottish Water is tapping into renewables in a bid to reduce its carbon emissions.
Scottish Water is tapping into renewables in a bid to reduce its carbon emissions.

Solar panels in Speyside and wind turbines in Orkney are helping Scottish Water reap the benefits of renewables at its sites across the country.

The utility firm says it has hit its latest carbon-cutting and energy-efficiency targets two years ahead of schedule. It is aiming to become a net-zero company by 2040 – fives years ahead of Scottish Government targets.

Figures highlighted by Scottish Water during Climate Week show that the national water and waste water services provider now generates 35 gigawatt hours (GWh) of energy per year – enough to power around 11,000 homes.

But it admits to being one of the biggest users of electricity in the country, consuming about 440 GWh per year.

Over the past six years, Scottish Water has increased its renewable energy production capacity and has 70 works which are either wholly or partly self-sufficient in their power needs.

It now owns and operates 38 hydro turbines, 20 sites with small-scale wind turbines installed, 42 solar schemes, four combined heat and power plants and three biomass boilers.

Fraser Purves, energy manager at Scottish Water, said: “As a significant user of electricity a key objective is to reduce our reliance on grid power to make us greener and reduce operating costs. We are fortunate our infrastructure provides various opportunities for us to act sustainably to deliver our service and maximise financial value for our customers.

“In 2018/19 our sites self-generated more than ever before. This was down to ongoing investment at various locations throughout the country.”

Scottish Water Horizons, the utility’s commercial business that works to encourage growth and invest in renewable technologies, has made a significant contribution to Scottish Water’s renewable programme.

Donald MacBrayne, business development and delivery manager at Scottish Water Horizons, said: “Finding and developing innovative ways to generate power from our assets plays a key role in helping us achieve renewable targets and tackle growing energy demands.

“The diversity of our renewable and low-carbon energy portfolio is fundamental – whether that’s increasing biogas production at Scottish Water sites, generating green energy from food waste, recovering heat from waste water networks or exploring the potential to produce hydrogen from recycled final effluent.

“Already we have a strong pipeline of further sites of various sizes and stages of development to increase the sustainability of Scottish Water’s operations and help drive forward its net-zero goals.”

Scottish Water has also cut its overall carbon footprint with an increase in energy efficiency at many of its sites – and has achievement its renewables and energy efficiency target two years ahead of target.

Solar power is being used across some of Scottish Water's sites.
Solar power is being used across some of Scottish Water's sites.

This was done by hosting third-party private generation, including large-scale wind farms, along with working with local communities and landowners, to identify suitable Scottish Water sites which can purchase power via private wires from local community-owned renewable assets.

On the island of Stronsay in Orkney, where Scottish Water supplies water to just 350 people, 30 per cent of the site's own power (enough to power 14 homes) comes from three 5kw wind turbines. It has also installed off-grid heaters to heat the works with some of the generated power that cannot be exported to the grid.

Elsewhere, nearly 5000 solar photovoltaic (PV) panels have been installed at two borehole sites which take water from the River Spey. Power generated will be used to help pump water from the ground to the nearby water treatment works at Badentinan. The solar scheme, the largest of its kind built by Scottish Water Horizons, is expected to provide a fifth of the site’s annual electric needs – saving the equivalent of 437 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year.

Mr Purves added: “Our advances in both self-generation and energy efficiency demonstrate how Scottish Water is making a significant contribution to Scotland’s overall national economic, carbon and renewable energy targets. Scottish Water will continue to use these techniques as well as other new ways to save energy and reduce its carbon footprint and will be working towards new energy-saving targets.”

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