Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon launches UK’s first Difgen turbine with Scottish Water
11 March 2013
The first turbine of its kind in the UK, capable of generating enough green energy to power up to 150 homes, has been installed in Scottish Water pipes.
Capable of producing 600 MWh of electricity each year, the technology known as Difgen is located in a strategic trunk water main at Denny, near Falkirk, reducing the amount of electricity Scottish Water needs to buy from the National Grid.
It is the latest renewable energy project designed to reduce Scottish Water’s energy bill for the benefit of customers. The publicly-owned company has 10 hydro schemes in operation, while 23 other sites - either hosting hydro or Difgen technologies - are in development. Scottish Water is also looking at the potential for further schemes across its network.
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon today welcomed the installation on a visit to Denny to find out more. Nicola said:
“This is an excellent and innovative project and it is a tribute to the pioneering work Scottish Water is doing that this is a UK first.
“It is fantastic to see two of Scotland's vast natural resources, water and renewable energy coming together to benefit both the environment and Scottish Water customers. It matches the Scottish Government's ambition to make Scotland a Hydro Nation and ensure the water we have in Scotland delivers the maximum possible benefit to our people.
“By helping to reduce the amount of electricity Scottish Water has to buy, it will help ensure the organisation continues to run on an efficient basis and with the lowest average charges across the whole of the UK.”
Douglas Millican, Chief Executive of Scottish Water, said:
“This is an exciting development for Scottish Water. The Difgen turbine at Denny - the first of its kind to be installed in the UK - reduces pressure and harnesses the natural power of water flowing through pipes to produce renewable energy.
“As a significant user of energy, with an abundance of assets such as reservoirs and treatment works, this is an excellent example of Scottish Water supporting the development of a low carbon economy, using our water resources to maximum effect - in the spirit of an ambitious Hydro Nation.
“With a number of hydro projects already operational and other schemes in development, Scottish Water can play a part in meeting Scotland’s renewable energy targets. By reducing the amount of electricity we need to buy from the Grid we can reduce energy costs for the benefit of our customers.”
Difgen is a way of controlling the pressure of water running through pipes while also generating green energy. Difgen can be installed where the flow of water needs to be controlled by installing a pressure reducing valve. A turbine recovers the lost pressure and turns it into energy.
Duncan Collins, Managing Director of Zeropex UK Ltd, which has developed the technology, said:
"We are delighted that our Difgen, which harnesses the natural power of water flowing through our pipes through pressure reduction, has been chosen by Scottish Water to generate renewable energy. Difgen is an excellent way of extracting added value from a natural resource without having an adverse impact on the environment, and helping to provide electricity for households and businesses in Scotland."
Generating renewable energy is a key priority for Scottish Water to reduce the energy that we need to purchase - delivering savings for our customers and supporting Scotland’s low carbon ambitions. Scottish Water presently generates around seven per cent of the energy it consumes, but through innovative use of our assets - such as treatment works, catchments and pipelines - we are capable of significantly increasing this proportion.
In another project to help Scottish Water deliver further renewable energy, the company has awarded Eneco Wind UK rights to explore development of a wind farm on land at Backwater Reservoir near Kirriemuir in Angus. An 18-turbine wind farm on the site would have the capacity to generate 142GWh per annum, equivalent to almost a third of Scottish Water’s annual energy requirement. Eneco is conducting a comprehensive public and stakeholder consultation to help determine the overall scale and design of proposals.