Scottish Water Horizons launches ‘mini-hydro’ project

Scottish Water Horizons (SWH) has launched the first in a series of 'mini-hydro' energy power plants, using old waterworks around Scotland to generate renewable energy.

The works at the Touch water treatment works near Stirling form part of the water company’s ongoing commercial and renewable energy business, which has seen £400,000 invested as it begins exploring the possibility of using hydro power at its other sites.

It has now started generating for the National Grid following the installation of a 52kw turbine to capture the energy from water flowing down pipelines from hilltop reservoirs and is expected to generate 300MWh a year – enough to power 50 homes. Before the Touch turbine could start generating hydro power an export meter was installed and a licence was obtained from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).

SWH said it expects to see a return on its investment within six years and plans to reinvest income from the Touch plant into further renewable energy projects. More than 200 Scottish Water sites have been analysed, which could potentially be developed.

SWH managing director Richard Allan, said that generating renewable energy is a key priority for the company, which uses around 450GWh of electricity each year and has annual power bill of £40m.

Mr Allan said: “It’s great to see the Touch turbine going live as it’s the first of hopefully many similar schemes. We are making best use of Scottish Water assets to contribute to a greener Scotland. While each site generates only a modest amount of power they all add up.”

As well as hydro power, SWH is also developing wind power by installing wind turbines on land near its reservoirs. It also operates an anaerobic digestion facility at Deerdykes near Cumbernauld, which converts food waste into biogas and has plans for more digestion plants elsewhere in Scotland.

Work is also expected to start later this year to install solar panels on the roofs of treatment works and other buildings.

Carys Matthews

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