One thousand solar panels installed at Scottish water works

(L-R): John Sammon, Project Manager and Chris Toop, General Manager for Scottish Water’s energy programme © Scottish Water

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

“We have taken this approach because it helps to support the environment while reducing costs,” Chris Toop, General Manager for Scottish Water’s energy programme, told The Source. “It also maximises the economic benefit from our water resources, while supporting the Scottish Government’s Hydro Nation agenda.”

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-sized swimming pools. This means that 17,000 properties in parts of western and southern Edinburgh and areas of West Lothian now receive drinking water that has been treated thanks to the power of the sun.

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

“Every day, Scottish Water provides our customers with 1.34 billion litres of drinking water and then treats over 840 million litres of wastewater,” said Toop. “This means we currently need around 440GWh of electricity annually around Scotland. Electricity can be expensive and installing solar panels is 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 that can be generated at treatment works and in water mains to over 50GWh.

There are now 27 hydro turbines that harness the natural flow of water through the company’s 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 Scottish Water’s operations.