by Suzanne Bargon
December sees Midlothian council hand over its first “solar-powered water heated” properties to their council tenants.
The council’s new development has 18 properties in total, of this, six first floor flats and six semi-detached in Cuiken Terrace, Penicuik have the new system installed.
Solar energy reduces the amount of fossil fuels needed to heat water in each property. The system will also lower carbon dioxide emissions.
The cost of installation across the twelve solar properties is around £50,400, 30% of which is provided by Community Energy Scotland.
Solar water heating systems work by absorbing solar energy. The energy is transferred from the solar panel to heat the water in the property’s hot water tank. The system provides up to 60% of an average household’s annual hot water.
Eric Dodd, National Projects Manager of Community Energy Scotland, said: “Savings to each homeowner will be between £232 and £485 per annum. In many circumstance we are learning that in the summer months people do not have to use more conventional means of heating water such as gas and electricity and the sun provides all their hot water needs. Solar energy is used to heat the water from solar radiation and is to reduce the impact on the householder’s energy bill.”
Although the Scottish climate does not appear particularly sun drenched, the solar water heating panels are efficient enough to operate without relying on high temperatures or direct sunlight to produce energy. They work on the principle of light absorption, rather than needing heat or direct sunlight.
Councillor Adam Montgomery, Midlothian Council Provost, said: “The incorporation of a solar water heating system in these properties is a first for Midlothian Council. Embracing this technology reduces the quantity of CO2 households produce and saves energy. The system also reduces the average household heating bill, which reduces costs for our tenants.”
Midlothian council and the Scottish Government have funded the development of this project.