Dingwall Schoolgirl Lets Nothing Go to Waste to Help The Environment

Pictured: Kayleen Paterson (9) from Dingwall.

Home school may be out for summer, but an enterprising Ross-shire schoolgirl isn’t letting that stop her from putting her mind to work on the big challenges of the future.

Kayleen Paterson, aged 9, from Dingwall recently wrote to Scottish Water to say she had been thinking about ways in which waste water that is flushed down the loo could be used to provide electricity and heat.

In her letter, Kayleen who has just finished Primary 4 at Dingwall Primary School outlined her idea:

“So every Scottish Water site gets a tank.

“Every number 2 gets cut and put into a tank.

“The tank gets taken away every month and gets put in an incinerator to provide heat, warmth and energy which reduces waste going out to sea and helps the environment.”

Scottish Water’s Waste Water Operations Manager for the north of Scotland, Kirsty McLaughlan (pictured) said:

“We loved getting Kayleen’s letter and seeing that she had been thinking about how to protect the environment and find ways to get useful things like heat and electricity from waste.

“I spend a lot of time thinking about the same things as part of my job, while ensuring that our local teams can continue to clean the water that our customers have used so that it can be safely returned to rivers or the sea.

“Kayleen is thinking along exactly the right lines, as the solid material within the dirty water that arrives at all of our sites is already separated out as sludge and stored in a tank for collection.

“This is taken for further treatment so that it can be re-used safely – and at some of our sites this can include generating heat and power.”

Scottish Water is one of the biggest users of electricity in the country and consumes about 440 Gigawatt hours of grid electricity at all of its sites each year.

In response, it has been investing heavily in renewable energy technologies, recently growing its self-generated power output to almost 53 Gigawatt hours per year, as well as hosting further large-scale renewable energy generating capacity on its land.

Through its commercial subsidiary Scottish Water Horizons, it has also helped roll-out innovative technology in the UK to recover warmth directly from sewers and use it to provide hot water and heating for buildings – including to a community as part of a district heat network in Stirling and a college campus in the Scottish Borders. 

The organisation as a whole has committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2040, five years ahead of the target for Scotland. 

Kirsty McLaughlan added:

“We need to keep finding new ways to make more clean electricity, use less energy, recover value from waste and help the environment – so we hope Kayleen will keep thinking of ideas as we need lots of them.

“She could even come and help us put ideas into action in a few years’ time as we work to achieve our ambitious goal by 2040.”