Celebrating 10 years of solar
energy generation

21 December 2021

This winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, Scottish Water is marking the days getting longer by celebrating a decade of solar power production.

In 2011, we installed our first solar photovoltaic (PV) scheme at Penwhirn Water Treatment Works in Dumfries and Galloway. Since then we have invested over £14 million, enabling the production of 10MW of capacity across 53 sites. Around 32GWh of solar power has been produced over the ten years – the equivalent of powering over 8,600 homes a day.

Donald MacBrayne, Business Development Manager, said:

“People often raise an eyebrow when I tell them about installing solar panels in Scotland. But even now during the shortest days of the year, we are still producing a significant amount of power from our sites.

In Perth, we recently installed our first battery storage facility to store the energy collected during the day. This means that even when it’s a bit dreary, we can still harness the power of the sun. And we cut the carbon footprint of the city’s treatment works by around 160 tonnes of CO2 per year.”

Outside view of a large ground-mounted solar PV scheme on a cloudy day
First solar PV scheme installed at Penwhirn Water Treatment Works, Dumfries and Galloway

Bigger, bolder, faster

Renewable energy is a vital part Scottish Water’s Routemap to achieving net zero operational emissions by 2030.

We’re driving forward ambitious plans to install more green schemes on a much larger scale and faster pace.  Already we have plans to build our largest solar array in East Dunbartonshire. Over 8,500 solar panels are to be installed at one of the most energy-hungry water works in Scotland at Balmore Water Treatment Works.  

We’re also piloting innovative new technologies such bifacial solar panels which produce power from both sides of the panel; and exploring floating solar panels which have the potential to open up sections of reservoirs for power production.

Gordon Reid, General Manager Net Zero at Scottish Water, reflected on the milestone coming just after COP26 in Glasgow:

“The eyes of the world have been on Scotland this year and we are playing a key role in the country’s work to reduce emissions. As one of the largest energy users in Scotland, our plan to have all sites powered by our own renewable sources and those hosted on our land by 2040 is ambitious.  

Since we started installing our first solar PV panels a decade ago, the technology has more than doubled in efficiency while halving in price meaning even our smallest sites can benefit from solar arrays.”

By 2030, Scottish Water aim to have installed an additional 90GWh of renewable energy sources, three times more than they currently produce and next year plan to install 9.2MW of solar PV capacity.

Underside view of a ground-mounted solar PV panel
Piloting bifacial solar panels at a treatment site in Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire

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