According to SW, the project is estimated to reduce the energy costs for water treatment by 10% and will play a key part in keeping operating costs down.

It also forms part of a major £2.5bn investment by SW to improve water and wastewater treatment across Scotland over the 2010 – 15 period.

As part of the proposed scheme, SW plans to make use of its existing buildings portfolio and has identified 30 of its sites that could power the water treatment process in areas such as rural Lanarkshire, the Borders, Stirlingshire, Angus and Fife.

As well as using the existing sites, the plans would see the construction of smaller buildings and electricity infrastructure to transfer the power from the point of generation back to the water treatment works where it is required.

As a result, some of the electricity infrastructure would be ‘off the grid’, which SW says would mean that any major power loss by the power companies would not affect the supply of water to customers.

SW building programme leader Ian McMillan, said that the project will play a key role in the company’s climate change strategy and will help “substantially reduce” its carbon footprint

He added: “This is nothing new – our asset base is already generating 5% of our power requirements across Scotland and the investment will double that output. We’ve identified a number of potential sites and these will be whittled down to the best 20 or so small hydro schemes.

“The £20m is a large investment which will soon pay itself back by allowing us to generate our own power.”

SW said it is now working closely with national park authorities, community councils, power companies and planning officials to ensure the small hydro turbines have a “minimal effect on the landscape”, with some being built in remote areas.

Carys Matthews

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