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Fergus Ewing MSP, Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism, today (Monday 19 May 2014) launched a new hydro-electric scheme at Dawyck Botanic Garden in the Scottish Borders, making it the first carbon neutral botanic garden in the UK.
The scheme, which has benefited from a GBP 30,000 grant from EDF Energy's Green Fund, will provide enough electricity to power both the Garden's Visitor Centre as well as the year-round maintenance of the Garden's infrastructure. Heating for the Visitor Centre, which was built in 2008, is already provided by a sustainable biomass boiler. Surplus electricity will be sold back to the national grid at times of low demand through the feed in tariff, creating a welcome new income source for Dawyck.
Dawyck House, which along with the Garden, once formed the grand Dawyck Estate, was one of the first houses in Scotland to have its own hydro electricity supply, which was in service during the late 19th to early 20th century. The system was powered from the Scrape Burn, a tributary of the River Tweed, which runs through the Garden, close to the house. The new hydro-electric system will be powered from the same burn.
On launching the project, the Mr Ewing said: "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."
"The Dawyck Garden is a fantastic example of how different renewable technologies, hydro and the existing biomass boiler, can work in tandem to produce a low carbon energy mix and help Scotland reach its ambitious national targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050."
Simon Milne MBE, Regius Keeper of Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, said: "With increasing interest in sustainability issues, and the need to reduce carbon emissions as well as lessen running costs, the plan developed to install a modern micro-hydro system to provide Dawyck's electricity. "
"Having looked at how electricity was generated in Victorian times, we combined past experience with modern technology to create a much more sustainable future for the Garden. We now have heat and electricity generated from greener resources, and we are thrilled by the prospect of Dawyck being the first carbon neutral botanic garden in the UK." By the time RBGE acquired the Garden in 1978, the Victorian system had long since been replaced by a supply from the National Grid and the remaining infrastructure had become a dysfunctional eyesore and was duly removed. However, the existence of the historical Victorian system was such a strong indicator that electricity could once again be generated using the Scrape Burn to provide enough power for the site, and a comprehensive feasibility study confirmed that it was possible. The modern scheme, which was designed and implemented by small-scale hydro developer, BabyHydro, is now fully functional and is expected to provide a supply of up to 11kW.
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