The ambition for the region is to act as a beacon for innovative technologies to support low carbon living and working. This represents a major opportunity for the development of skills and technologies that will enhance the quality of life in the region, generating employment opportunities, economic benefits and international export potential.
The region is rich in a number of natural resources but also a very strong science and research base involved in these sectors. A combination of locational advantage, long term investment and a supportive environment for business, combine to create a world leading centre of excellence.
There are a number of major assets in this regard:
- The Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation
- Forestry Commission and Forest Research
- The Hydro Nation Centre for Life Sciences and Water Innovation
- The Tweed Foundation
- Borders Forest Trust
The energy sector, including renewables, in the Scottish Borders contributes 3.5 per cent of overall GVA.
Waste to Energy
Zero Waste: Edinburgh and Midlothian is a major joint-project between the City of Edinburgh Council and Midlothian Council to deliver, through private sector partners, dedicated facilities for the treatment of the food and residual waste collected in Edinburgh and Midlothian, while producing renewable heat and electricity for the local area.
The Millerhill Food Waste Recycling Plant, officially opened in March of 2017, is turning the region’s food waste into renewable energy. This facility, which was constructed by Alauna Renewable Energy, a partnership between Kelda Organic Energy and Scottish Water Horizons, is capable of recycling all of the discarded food that is collected by the two councils, plus some additional waste from local businesses and industries.
A state of the art energy from waste site is also currently being constructed next to the food waste recycling plant on the Zero Waste Parc. It is hoped the project to treat both food and landfill waste on the site, creating renewable energy in the process, will help both authorities contribute to the national recycling target of 70% by 2025 and the national landfill diversion target of 95% by 2025.
Find out more: www.zerowastefuture.com
Learning from the Sun
Edinburgh College opened Scotland's first solar meadow in 2013. The five-acre site, designed and installed by energy company SSE, at the Midlothian campus in Eskbank, Dalkeith, features more than 2,500 photo-voltaic panels.
Edinburgh College has an excellent record in providing high quality Engineering graduates with up to date training on solar panels, electric vehicles, hydraulics, pneumatics and PLC lab. Find out more at: edinburghcollege.ac.uk/welcome/centres/engineering
Not only does the meadow cut the college’s fuel bills, it also helps to train engineering students and provides valuable research into the impact on electrical output of environmental factors such as the weather.
Spark Energy started in 2007 as a small start-up company with a background in the letting industry. It filled a fill a gap in the utility market to meet the needs of letting agents, landlords and tenants. In 2014 they were placed 23rd on the Sunday Times Fast Track 100, the highest-ranked Scottish company on the list.
Spark is currently based in a former converted mill building in Selkirk after moving to the premises from Edinburgh in 2008. The company are thought to be one of the five largest employers in the Borders, with over 300 staff based at their Selkirk office. Spark benefit from their location as they can attract talent from the surrounding areas; who can easily access the office using Borders’ Railway. This includes staff who want to enjoy the excitement of living in Edinburgh whilst working in the scenic countryside.
FCC environment, who are currently treating black bag waste from households and then converting it to produce electricity, are based in Dalkeith in Midlothian.
They are one of the UK’s leading waste and resource management companies helping thousands of businesses and communities waste less and recycle more.
Their Dalkeith facility is close to multiple railway stations, making it easy for staff to commute in from along the Borders Railway corridor. Borders Railway also provides staff with great access to Edinburgh as well as surrounding areas on the corridor.
The facility is benefiting the local community as staff have regularly been using hotels, restaurants and other local businesses, a winning situation for everyone!