The National Trust has announced it will make its biggest ever investment in renewable technology.
Following a £3.6 million trial undertaken in the previous year, Europe’s largest conservation organisation will invest a further £30 million in a variety of renewable energy technologies.
The expenditure will help the trust reach its goals of cutting energy use by 20 percent and sourcing 50 percent of the energy it consumes on land under its control by the year 2020.
The National Trust’s rural enterprise director, Patrick Clegg, states that ‘In setting out our 10 year plan we recognised we will have to play our part in helping to negate climate change. A key part of that is to reduce our reliance on oil and look for greener energy solutions.’
‘We have a responsibility to look after the places in our care, requiring us to make long-term decisions that will protect them for future generations.’
At present, the trust spend in excess of £6 million heating and powering properties under its control each year. It is expected that the investment could reduce these costs by up to £4 million per annum, through energy sourced naturally in addition to excess energy produced that can be exported back to the grid. Freeing up valuable capital to source vital conservation work.
One of the big challenges for the trust with their upcoming projects will be finding ways to design and install systems in keeping with the properties’ historic nature and, at the same time, overcome the inefficient nature of the buildings.
Two-thirds of the 40 projects will run off biomass.
The use of biomass will enable the sites to benefit from the vast areas of National Trust Woodland.
During the renewable pilot program, one of the systems installed was a 200kW biomass boiler at Ickworth Palace, a Georgian palace situated within 8,000 acres of National Trust Parkland. Replacing the existing oil boiler, the biomass system will provide heat for the entire property.
Situated within an old gardener’s shed, the installation was designed to be retain the Italian architecture of the property. In addition, it is intended for the home of the new boiler to become home to some of the nine bat species found nearby.
Through a process known as thinning, wood chip for the boiler can be sourced entirely on-site in a natural, sustainable way. Thinning is a pre-occurring process whereby denser parts of the woods are ‘thinned’ in order to increase biodiversity and create light and space for fresh saplings and habitats.
The drive to switch to renewable source is a big step for The Natural Trust who have previously opposed the switch to larger-scale, renewable alternatives in the past. But as is the problem with the majority of domestic and commercial switches to renewable energy, this initiative highlights the importance of tasteful installations that will benefit the surrounding, natural environment for years and generations to come.