A new 11kW hydroelectric scheme has been launched at Dawyck Botanic Garden in the Scottish Borders, making it the first carbon neutral botanic garden in the UK.
The project was developed by small-scale hydro developer, BabyHydro, and benefitted from a £30,000 grant from EDF Energy's Green Fund.
The new 11kW scheme will be powered from the Scrape Burn, a tributary of the River Tweed, which runs through the Garden. It will provide enough electricity to power the Visitor Centre and for year-round maintenance of the Garden infrastructure. Any surplus electricity will be sold back to the national grid at times of low demand through the feed in tariff.
Dawyck House and Gardens was of the first houses in Scotland to have its own hydroelectricity supply, which was in service during the late 19th to early 20th century. However, the Victorian scheme had long been replaced by a supply from the National Grid by the time Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) acquired garden in 1978. A subsequent feasibility study confirmed that a modern small-scale hydroelectric plant could power the site, and today that system designed and implemented by BabyHydro has become fully functional.
"This project shows how Scotland is blessed with the natural resources suitable for hydro at all scales. In small-scale schemes such as these we see the dual benefit of renewable energy as a means to reduce carbon emissions alongside cost savings," said Fergus Ewing MSP, Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism.
Regional Director of VisitScotland Paula McDonald said that by becoming the first carbon neutral botanic garden in Scotland and the UK, Dawyck is setting a "superb, inspirational example for tourism businesses to follow as they strive towards becoming 'greener' for this visitor season."