Dawyck Hydro-Electric Scheme Powers Ahead

The hydro-electric scheme at Dawyck Botanic Garden at Stobo, near Peebles has generated enough electricity to power seven family homes during its first year.

Dawyck, which is the first carbon neutral botanic garden in the UK, now plans to increase its power generation as it moves into its second year.

Since it began operating on 19 May 2014, the hydro system has generated 35,000 kWh of electricity which is around 100 kWh per day. The average Scottish home uses around 14 KWh per day.

The scheme, which benefited from a £30,000 grant from EDF Energy’s Green Fund, provides enough electricity to power both the Garden’s Visitor Centre and 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 is being sold back to the National Grid at times of low demand through the feed in tariff, creating a welcome new income source for Dawyck.

The power generated so far has saved the Garden around £3,500 and the carbon equivalent reduction saving to the environment is in excess of 20 tonnes.

Garden Curator Graham Stewart said: “Dawyck Botanic Garden’s decision to invest in hydro-electric technology has been proven to be environmentally sound and has added significantly to the Garden’s portfolio of green initiatives. Our modern recreation of a former Victorian hydro-electric scheme has led to Dawyck achieving a carbon-neutral status, the only Botanic Garden in the UK to have this accolade. Over the coming year we intend to make some further modifications to increase the amount of power produced at the turbine.’’

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. That 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 is powered from the same burn.

By the time RBGE acquired the Garden in 1978, the Victorian system had long since been replaced by a supply from the National Grid and the remaining infrastructure had become a dysfunctional eyesore and was duly removed.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.

Dawyck Botanic Garden, which boasts 5-star Quality Assurance from VisitScotland, is one of Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh’s three regional sites and welcomes approximately 30,000 visitors a year.

The Garden is home to one of Scotland’s finest tree collections including some of Britain’s oldest and tallest trees.  The 65-acre Garden offers woodland and burnside walks and is renowned for its seasonal displays of snowdrops, bluebells, rhododendrons, azaleas, Himalayan poppies and autumn colour.

Dawyck Botanic Garden is part of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE), a leading international research organisation delivering knowledge, education and plant conservation action in more than 80 countries around the world. In Scotland its four Gardens at Edinburgh, Benmore, Dawyck and Logan attract nearly a million visitors each year.

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is a charity (registration number SC007983)