Innovative ‘dual-sided’ solar scheme at Aberdeenshire treatment site

01 June 2022

An innovative solar PV scheme has been installed at a Scottish Water site to support the drive towards net zero emissions.

Over 1,800 solar PV panels, comprising double-sided ‘bifacial’ and standard modules, are now powering Fraserburgh’s waste water treatment works in Aberdeenshire. 

The technology will offset around 30% of the electricity needed to operate the facility. It will also generate over 0.76GWhr of energy each year – the same amount of energy needed to boil 1.8 million kettles.

The new installation is a result of a £985,000 investment by Scottish Water Horizons, the company’s largest renewable project in the North East to date.

Bifacial solar PV panels at Fraserburgh treatment works
Bifacial solar PV panels at Fraserburgh treatment works

Roddy Speirs, Scottish Water Horizons Project Manager, said:

“Despite the challenges of our geographic location, Scotland has a tremendous amount of solar power opportunity.

“Most solar PV arrays across the UK are single-sided, meaning they can only generate energy from the front of the panel.  Bifacial modules enable energy to be generated from both sides, significantly increasing energy generation potential.

“We’ve installed sophisticated metering equipment to allow accurate measurements to be taken. If the panels perform as hoped, it will be an exciting step forward in the decarbonisation of Scottish Water’s assets.”

How bifacial solar panels work

Bifacial panels work by generating electricity when sunlight strikes either side of the panel.  Most of the electricity is generated when the light hits the top of the pane. However as both sides of the panel are capable of generating electricity, any light that bounces off the ground and hits the back of the panel generates electricity too.

The scheme will cut the site’s carbon footprint by 177 tonnes of CO2 each year – the equivalent of offsetting around 580,000 miles from an average car.

Electric vehicle charging points have also been installed to support the transition of Scottish Water’s fleet of vans away from fossil fuels to clean energy.

Green energy collaboration

Fraserburgh treatment works are managed by Grampian Water Services who worked closely with Horizons to deliver this project. 

Grampian Water Services General Manager, Simon Wrigglesworth, said: “It is fantastic to see such innovation at our Fraserburgh site.  We are constantly looking at new ways to reduce our carbon footprint and increase green energy generation. 

“This is the third project we’ve completed with Horizons this year to maximise use of our assets to reduce emissions and costs to both us and our customers. It’s yet another exciting development in our journey towards Scottish Water’s ambition to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2040.”

Renewable energy experts Absolute Solar and Wind delivered the onsite solar scheme earlier this year whilst adhering to Covid guidance.

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