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Hydro scheme could take Ayr 'back to the future' with green energy on tap

Plans to harness the power of the River Ayr have been unveiled by South Ayrshire Council. The local authority's bidding to become one of the first in Scotland to benefit from a new national energy efficiency fund from the Scottish Government.

Scotland's Energy Efficiency Programme (SEEP) is designed to help local authorities to pilot new approaches to energy efficiency with community groups and businesses, helping to reduce costs and improving warmth in businesses and homes.

South Ayrshire Council has applied for SEEP funding to build a new £1 million hydro installation on the north bank of the River Ayr. The proposals would see two turbines built, generating 320 megawatt hours per year, enough to power 320,000 homes.

The plans were informed by a six month study conducted by the Energy Agency and Manpower Hydro Consulting, which were tasked with judging the feasibility of the project as well as providing financial estimates for development costs.

Mike Newall, Head of Neighbourhood Services, South Ayrshire Council, said, "We saw an opportunity to use the untapped power of the River Ayr to help provide cheaper energy for local businesses and are working hard to make them a reality.

"The plans are a great example of going back to the future to help meet our current needs. The site was home to a corn mill in the past, but for the last 60 years all the energy flowing past has remained completely untapped.

"If we secure funding for the new plant, we plan to sell energy direct to local businesses, while also making additional money by selling our surplus to the national grid."

It's thought the scheme would generate total revenue of £52,000 per year – £25,000 through the sale of electricity to local businesses, and a further £27,000 through sales to the national grid.

The application for SEEP funding also includes an additional £1.1 million which would pay for an energy efficiency programme for Ayrshire College, and additional work to improve external wall insulation for properties in Ayr Town Centre and Wallacetown.

A decision will be made on the application later this year.

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