MORE than 17,000 properties across the Lothians now receive drinking water which has been treated thanks to the power of the Sun.
Scottish Water has installed 1000 solar panels at a major water treatment works in Balerno.
The solar panels are capable of generating 0.2GWh of electricity per annum – enough to cater for western and southern Edinburgh and areas of West Lothian.
Marchbank Water Treatment Works currently produces 40 million litres of water per day – enough to fill 16 Olympic swimming pools.
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.
“The solar panels at Marchbank Water Treatment Works make this vital facility serving Edinburgh and West Lothian increasingly self-sufficient.
“All our efforts across Scottish Water have helped to reduce base electricity consumption by over 5 per cent in the last five years, while carbon emissions have fallen by 18 per cent since 2006-7. We are confident that the installation of solar panels will enable us to continue to reduce energy consumption and ultimately keep costs low for our customers.”
Scottish Water received a Scottish Green Energy Award for its project ‘Renewing Scotland’ last December and in the last two years has doubled the amount of renewable energy which can be generated at treatment works.
Stephanie Clark, policy manager at industry body Scottish Renewables, which organises the awards, said: “Scottish Water’s efforts to reduce its energy use are to be applauded.
“It will surprise many that the electricity generation potential of a solar PV array in Scotland is very similar, if not better than, one in central or northern England or parts of Wales.
“Solar in Scotland is quite counter-intuitive, but advances in solar panel design and the falling cost of the technology means there is significant potential for the technology north of the Border, particularly at locations like water treatment works, which have high on-site energy usage.”
The solar panels are among a string of measures which have been taken by Scottish Water in recent times in an effort to become more environmentally friendly.
The company said it had also installed more than 4000 smart meters to measure consumption and encourage residents to use less energy.