Ambitious plans to make Galashiels a zero-carbon community within the next decade took a significant step forward this week.
It came with the announcement that Energise Galashiels, the trust set up last year to promote the short and long-term wellbeing of the town in the new railway age, has been successful in a bid for £24,000 from Scotland’s Local Energy Challenge Fund (LECF).
The grant will fund a feasibility study over the coming months for the installation of a series of hydroelectric systems on the Gala Water and the town’s historic mill lades.
The study, which must be completed by February, will look at optimum locations for innovative low-head generators along the water courses.
“It will confirm the feasibility of each potential site and identify the most appropriate technologies to deploy,” said Ranald Boydell, of Energise Galashiels. “Work on this will begin in the next few weeks and, when completed, the intention is to apply for phase two funding from the LECF.
“The goal will then be to develop the hydro systems with the aim of aggregating around 400kw of installed capacity – enough to supply electricity to 1,000 households.
“It’s an ambitious project which will cost millions and take several years to fully develop, but this grant is a terrific endorsement of what we are trying to achieve – to make the town vibrant, sustainable and attractive to residents, visitors and new businesses.”
The LECF bid was supported by Scottish Borders Council, Community Energy Scotland and the volunteer Gala Waterways Group, set up in 2011 to rejuvenate and renovate the town’s mill lades, many of which are overgrown and blocked with debris.
“Galashiels has all the natural resources required to become a zero-carbon community in the next 10 years, which is an aspiration of Energise Galashiels,” said Mr Boydell. “Hydro is an obvious first step, utilising the water courses that powered the development of the textile industry and the town itself.
“After many years of talking about renewable energy potential, this grant will allow us to move towards real actions.”