National Trust puts renewable energy in the spotlight

Less than a month after announcing the launch of its own renewable energy trading company, the National Trust has slashed its environmental footprint by today (22 May) switching on the UK's largest marine-source heat pump at a country house in North Wales.

Plas Newydd, which was previously consuming over 1,500 litres of oil every day, is now entirely heated by the 300kW marine source heat pump which cost £600,000 to install but will save the conservation organisation over £40,000 a year in operating costs.

“With the Irish Sea right on the doorstep of Plas Newydd, a marine source heat pump is the best option for us,” explained the National Trust’s assistant director for operations in Wales, Adam Ellis-Jones. “However, being a pioneer is never easy.

“There are very few marine source heat pumps and none of this size in the UK, so it has been a challenging project but a very exciting one.”

The new local and clean energy system pumps a small amount of sea water from the Menai Strait in Anglesey through pipes to and from a heat exchanger on the shore and then up 30 metres of cliff face to the mansion’s boiler house.

The project is the first of five schemes to be completed in a £3.5m pilot phase of the National Trust’s Renewable Energy Investment Programme, which was launched last year in partnership with the 100% renewable electricity supplier Good Energy.

Juliet Davenport, founder and CEO of Good Energy, said: “This project shows that cutting-edge British renewable technology can transform the energy use of some our oldest buildings. It’s a pleasure to be part of this project with the National Trust and we look forward to seeing what the next step in their renewable energy journey will be.”

Video: National Trust’s marine-source heat pump

Last month, edie reported that the National Trust would begin selling renewable energy generated from its estate through a new trading company – National Trust Renewable Energy Ltd. Money raised from selling the electricity will be ploughed back into conservation projects such as footpath repairs and habitat management. 

The remaining pilot projects in the Renewable Energy Investment Programme are expected to be completed within the next year. If they are successful, the National Trust plans to invest in 43 renewables schemes at the places it looks after.

The National Trust’s five pilot projects: –

· Plas Newydd – 300kW marine source heat pump, providing 100% of the property’s heat requirements
· Croft Castle in Herefordshire – 199kW biomass boiler, supplying 74% of property’s heating needs
· Ickworth in Suffolk – 199kW woodchip boiler, supplying renewable heat to Ickworth House
· Hafod y Porth near Craflwyn in Snowdonia – energy from a 100kW hydro-electric scheme will be sold to the grid via National Trust (Renewable Energy Ltd)
· Stickle Ghyll in the Lake District – 100kW hydro-electric project, expected to provide 30 per cent of the property’s energy needs, including the National Trust’s Sticklebarn pub

The National Trust has committed to reducing its energy use by 20 per cent, halving fossil fuel consumption and generating 50 per cent of its energy from renewable energy sources by 2020.

The charity’s rural enterprises director Patrick Begg concluded: “It’s clear to us that we need to make big changes so that we can continue to protect our treasured places and tackle the impacts of climate change. This successful scheme marks a major step forwards in our clean energy journey.”

Luke Nicholls

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