£250,000 investment as Falkirk Wheel gets 85 solar panels in net zero bid

The Falkirk Wheel is to get £250,000 of investment as part of a pan by Scottish Canals to reach net zero by 2030.

Thursday, 1st July 2021, 4:20 am

The landmark - the world’s only fully rotating boatlift - will have 85 new solar panels installed, generating up to 18,000kWh per annum, saving the equivalent of 5.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions each year.

New air source heat pumps will also be installed on the world-renowned attraction alongside sub-metering to track renewable energy generation in real time and this will be on display in the newly refurbished visitor centre.

The green investment was announced today at a visit by Graeme Dey MSP, the newly appointed Transport Minister, and Catherine Topley, chief executive of Scottish Canals’ which manages the nation’s canal network.

Transport Minister, Graeme Dey MSP, with Scottish Canals’ CEO Catherine Topley while visiting The Falkirk Wheel as Scottish Canals announces plans to reach net zero by 2030. June 30, 2021 (Pic: James Chapelard)

The latest investment at Falkirk Wheel adds to the energy efficient structure which requires the electrical equivalent of boiling 8 kettles to turn the 1,800-tonne steel wheel.

Mr Dey said: “Over 500,000 visitors a year to The Falkirk Wheel will be able to see the live effect of renewable energy generation at the site.

“Scottish Canals continues to invest in zero emission vehicles, working collaboratively on climate adaptation infrastructure and the promotion of sustainable tourism and active travel.

“It is this collaborative approach which will support Scotland in meeting its world leading target of net zero emissions by 2045.”

Newly appointed Transport Minister, Graeme Dey MSP, inside the central axle while visiting The Falkirk Wheel

This first phase of the new green measures will see the gradual phasing out of gas fired boilers at The Falkirk Wheel.

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The solar panels and air source heat pumps will be installed by the end of the financial year, as a result 2022/23 will be the organisation’s greenest year yet.

The green investment at The Falkirk Wheel follows Scottish Canals’ gradual transition to a new fleet of electric vehicles last year.

They are used by Scottish Canals’ operational staff daily and are estimated to save 15 tonnes of carbon in the first year alone.

The canal network, which has over 22m visits each year, is a hub of activity with visitors taking to the canal by boot, bike and boat.

Those who visit The Falkirk Wheel will now be able to enjoy locally sourced produce at the café or even take a spin on a Forth electric hire bike down to the Kelpies.

Catherine Topley, said: “Our canals were once the lifeline of the industrial revolution transporting coal and other materials to power factories and industries in cities.

“They were one of the very first sustainable transport networks in the country, using only 20% of the energy required to travel on land. Now, 250 years on from their creation they remain a beacon for sustainable transport, tourism and economic growth on land and water

"Our journey to Net Zero is practical and collaborative, we are working with our partners to create change within communities where carbon reduction, nature-based solutions and health benefits are at the forefront of our plans and not in hindsight.”

Today’s announcement coincides with the launch of the organisation’s marketing campaign, #CanalsDoNetZero, which celebrates the wide range of measures being rolled out to reduce the carbon footprint of the nation’s canal network.

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