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

An innovative solar scheme which produces energy from both sides of a solar panel has been installed at a Scottish Water site to support the company’s drive towards net zero emissions.

Over 1,800 solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, comprising a mix of double-sided ‘bifacial’ and standard modules, are now powering Fraserburgh’s wastewater treatment works in Aberdeenshire.

The carbon reducing technology will offset around 30 per cent of the electricity needed to operate the facility and 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 public utility’s commercial subsidiary, making it the company’s largest renewable energy project in the North East to date.

Roddy Speirs, Scottish Water Horizons Project Manager, said: “Despite the challenges of our geographic location, Scotland has a tremendous amount of solar power opportunity.

“Currently most solar PV arrays across the UK are single sided which means 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 in the way we hope, it will be an exciting step forward in the decarbonisation of Scottish Water’s assets.”

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 solar scheme at Fraserburgh will help cut the carbon footprint of the site by around 177 tonnes of CO2 each year – the equivalent of offsetting over 580,000 miles from the average passenger car.

Electric vehicle (EV) charging points have also been included as part of the green scheme to support the transition of Scottish Water’s fleet of vans away from fossil fuels to clean energy.

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.

“This is 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 ongoing Covid guidance.

Scottish Water has committed to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2040 with an interim target to host or self-generate three times its annual electricity consumption by 2030.  Almost 80 of the company’s water and waste water treatment works are now either self-sufficient or partly sufficient in their power requirements.



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