The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) is striding forward to embrace Scotland’s clean energy revolution with a drive towards solar power that has significantly reduced its carbon footprint and lowered public costs by thousands of pounds.
Solar panels installed at Procurator Fiscal offices in Falkirk, Hamilton, Glasgow, Dumbarton, Elgin, Airdrie, and the Crown Office in Edinburgh have already made a huge impact on moves to explore renewable sources of power as part of its ongoing commitment to help tackle climate change.
Indeed, last year a further investment in green power increased solar generation in COPFS buildings by 126%.
Solar panels can make effective use of any available daylight at any time of the year but benefit especially from longer days in the summer months.
Solar power is created through the installation of solar panels which contain solar Photovoltaic (PV) cells. These cells generate electricity by absorbing sunlight and using that light energy to create an electrical current.
Batteries can be used to make the process more efficient by storing solar energy generated during the day to use overnight when there is no sunlight. COPFS is currently exploring how best to use the excess energy generated at some of sites and this may include batteries.
The amount of electricity generated by solar panels is directly connected to day length, so COPFS gets maximum benefit from solar panels at this time of year.
However, it also plays a part in reducing COPFS energy consumption from the national grid all year round. Solar panels still work on cloudy days, although not as efficiently as direct sunlight.
The first panels were put in place on the roof of the Falkirk office in 2015 and generated 3200 KwH per annum – the equivalent of boiling a kettle 13,000 times.
Last year, an additional 34 more efficient panels were installed on the building’s east-facing side and has resulted in in an increase in energy savings of almost 80%.
In Glasgow, 106 panels in 2022 produced over 16,500 KwH of power, with new panels expected to generate an additional 25,000 KwH by the end of this year.
But the real success story behind can be found in Airdrie, the newest member of the COPFS solar-powered offices.
One hundred and thirty-two panels, installed in November, are generating 61 KwH, which would be enough to power 20 average homes.
In fact, the system is performing so well during sunny, daylight hours that the building is regularly electrically self-sufficient without requiring power from the national grid – and even provides more electricity than it currently uses.
As a result, it is anticipated that the Airdrie office alone will save 8.7 tonnes of carbon each year.
Similarly, Airdrie’s near neighbour in Hamilton is also often off grid during the summer months, generating all its electricity needs from its solar panels.
It is all part of the targets drawn up by the COPFS Climate Change Working Group, which has developed a strategy aiming to reduce carbon emissions in COPFS properties by 2.5% each year, with the overall mission to be carbon neutral by 2040.
This aim aligns with Scottish Government commitments set out in Holyrood’s own draft energy transition plan for 2023.
The success of COPFS’s engagement with solar energy illustrates a determination to invest fully in renewable sources of green energy to save substantial amounts from the public purse.
Les Brown, Procurator Fiscal for South Strathclyde, Dumfries and Galloway, said: “The Procurator Fiscal office at Airdrie is showing the art of the possible, modern working places with cutting-edge sustainable energy solutions.
“Given that the technology will continue to improve and become more efficient, I am sure that with the assistance and support of our staff, we can make our workplaces carbon neutral in the future, meeting our commitments.
“I’m very proud that our offices in SSDG are playing such an important role in leading the way in the use of renewable energy.”