Last Friday (10 May 2019) saw the first shovels break the ground for the development of a new micro-hydro project at Saughton Park in Edinburgh.  Saughton Park was the first project supported under the Scotland-wide ParkPower programme developed by greenspace scotland which is currently investigating the potential for similar schemes on greenspaces across Scotland.

The ground-breaking ceremony was performed by Transport and Environment Convener Councillor Lesley Macinnes alongside representatives from the Scottish Power Energy Networks and the Friends of Saughton Park.  The scheme is part of an £8M park re-development project, partially funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, to upgrade park buildings and amenities.

The hydro project takes full advantage of Saughton Park’s location, specifically its proximity to the Water of Leith which runs along its southern edge.  The river provides sufficient all-year-round water flow to drive a 39kW hydro turbine known as an ‘Archimedes Screw’. At a total project expenditure of approximately £500,000, the turbine is one component of a carefully designed renewable energy strategy to demonstrate the potential of an eco-park for reducing carbon emissions and generating long-term financial savings. 

The park has already installed a horizontal ground-source heat pump under a football pitch and drilled a series of boreholes under what is now a car park for a vertical ground-source heat pump.  Both heat pumps will provide a low carbon heating solution for the park’s visitor centre, cafe and greenhouses.  One consequence of heat pumps is that they have an electricity draw to run so the hydro scheme is the perfect partner, providing green, locally sourced power to offset this demand.  Surplus hydro power will be used for the buildings and lighting around the park.

This initial idea for park-based low carbon heating and electricity generation was developed through greenspace scotland’s ParkPower programme and will make Saughton Park Edinburgh’s first fully green-powered park. Perhaps more importantly, the project demonstrates a powerful concept – that urban greenspaces across the country can be developed sensitively to utilise their natural assets for green energy generation.  Through ground-breaking projects like Saughton, ParkPower aims to demonstrate that parks and greenspaces can make a vital contribution to the Scottish Government’s ambitions to devolve and decarbonise our energy system.

Find out more about our ParkPower programme