One thousand solar panels – capable of generating 0.2GWh of electricity per annum – have been installed by Scottish Water at its Marchbank water treatment works near Balerno.
The treatment works currently produces 40 mega litres of water per day – enough to fill 16 Olympic swimming pools.
This means that 17,000 properties in parts of western and southern Edinburgh and areas of West Lothian now receive drinking water which has been treated thanks to the power of the sun.
Chris Toop, General Manager for Scottish Water’s energy programme, explained: “Every day, we provide customers with a massive 1.34 billion litres of drinking water and then treat more than 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 every household 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.”
“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% in the last five years, while carbon emissions have fallen by 18% since 2006/07.
“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.”
The panels were installed by R&A Group.
In the last two years, Scottish Water has doubled the amount of renewable energy which can be generated at treatment works and in water mains to over 50 GWh.
There are now 27 hydro turbines which harness the natural flow of water through their pipes to produce electricity, as well as several wind and photovoltaic schemes.
The board’s Scottish Water Horizons subsidiary also owns and operates a food-waste recycling plant near Cumbernauld. The first large scale plant of its kind in Scotland, the plant transforms food waste using anaerobic digestion technology into biogas which is then used to generate electricity – enough to power around 2,000 homes