Conservation group to get 50% of energy from renewables

 
Water wheel   National Trust The Trust already has some 150 individual renewables schemes

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The National Trust has revealed a plan to generate half of its power from renewable sources by 2020.

The trust already has 150 individual renewables schemes, but the new document projects how fossil fuel will be reduced across its properties.

It aspires to set an example to others by integrating renewable energy into sensitive landscapes.

The organisation has been criticised for its chairman's vociferous campaign against wind power.

This is considered as the renewable source with most potential in the UK.

Under its new plan, the trust's main renewables by 2020 will be hydro (27%) and biomass (21%); augmented by heat pumps (1%) and solar (0.5%).

Grid electricity will supply 26% of its power, gas 15% and LPG 6%. Oil - currently a major cost and carbon source for the trust's rural properties - will be reduced to just 3%.

There are also plans to cut energy consumption by 20%. Wind power will play no part, because the trust's historic landscapes are deemed too sensitive.

Patrick Begg, rural enterprise director for the trust, which aims to preserve historic buildings and land for the enjoyment of the public, told BBC News: "We've put all our effort to make the big leap in generating renewable energy from all our properties. Our new programme will get us to (50% of energy) by 2020."

The subsidised renewables will save the organisation money, he said, producing an expected return on capital of 10% - much better than traditional investments.

Unexpected bonus

Morden Hall Park, in south-west London, already boasts an array of renewables, including a wood-fired boiler, different sorts of solar panels and what is claimed to be the UK's most energy-efficient historic building, the Stable Yard.

The new showpiece, behind the old water wheel and Snuff Mill, is an Archimedes screw reclining in the River Wandle, lazily generating power for the visitor centre (the Archimedes screw was originally designed as an irrigation pump. Its modern adaptation allows power to be generated from a low head of water).

The biggest unexpected bonus to the trust overall has come from biomass burning for heating. The organisation owns 25,000 hectares of woodland and Mr Begg acknowledged initial fears that wildlife would be harmed if the woods were managed more intensively for fuel.

Patrick Begg Here, Patrick Begg stands in front of the Archimedes Screw on the River Wandle

"We were very pleased to see that the opposite has been the case," he said. "Managing woods more intensively, including coppicing, has actually increased biodiversity."

The trust's efforts overall have been applauded - but with reservations. It is a major land-holder, but if all the improvements go to plan will still be generating the tiniest fraction of the UK's renewable energy.

What is more, its chairman Simon Jenkins has used his influential newspaper columns to fuel opposition to wind energy, which is the most readily available large-scale renewable energy source in the UK.

This has been highly controversial with some environmentalists accusing him of setting back the cause of renewable energy in a desire to preserve the landscape in aspic.

Mr Begg said: "Simon has some very strong opinions about wind, which he's free to express. The Trust has been perfectly clear - we're not anti-wind, we're anti-wind in the wrong place, badly designed."

He said the Trust, an organisation loved by Britain's middle classes, had no misgivings about receiving electricity subsidies from poor people struggling to pay their bills. The subsidy system, he said, was designed to tackle climate change and the Trust wished to play its part.

The majority of the trust's estate was free to enter, he said There were no plans to open the other properties free of charge to people in fuel poverty.

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 114.

    112.Soothseeker
    Just now
    111.ThePhysicistRidesAgain "Why do idiots type in capitals."

    And why do they fail to use question marks?

    Good point! I apologise for my lapse.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 113.

    106. Crow
    VERY poor!! You DO know the difference between evacuated tube heating, and photoelectrics, do you?? Apparently not.

    Yes. One generates hot water, the other generates electricity. Electricity is useful at any time, hot water isn't. I can store about 40p worth of hot water, about two baths full. That is all I can use, so it would take 5000 days (14 years) to pay off a £2000 panel.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 112.

    111.ThePhysicistRidesAgain "Why do idiots type in capitals."

    And why do they fail to use question marks?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 111.

    Why do idiots type in capitals.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 110.

    109. D Dortman
    Of course they should be sited sympathetically, but where did you get the idea they can only supply 1 property?

    Sites across the country are suitable for reverse Archimedes screw generators pumping out electricity 24/7/365.

    They are quick, cheap and easy to build and install, and we have the skills, facilities and resources to design and build them 100% in the UK.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 109.

    "102 Leodisthefirst Archimedes screws"

    Hydro is generally a decent idea, but it must be done sympathetically (travel to Barnard Castle to see a bad example), and unfortunately most sites really only have the capability to power 1 property.

    Solar is the better option, especially if we can crack the storage problem, that and tidal/wave power which is the only really viable longterm solution.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 108.

    From 104. paulmerhaba:
    "Perhaps we should ask Mr Shanks if his pony is still available."

    Rode him till I am saddlesore. :) Mister Shanks will be lucky if he gets his pony back. Anyway, I like your point, the most efficient fuel cell we can command at will is the human body. People might think I'm a loony hauling a sack truck full of food for miles, but 'austerity' will soon fix that notion.

  • Comment number 107.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 106.

    From 103. SeeDubya:
    "98. Crow
    The moment there is sunlight, even in winter, a kilowatt is easily had per square metre. The UK's grasp of energy supply engineering is VERY poor.

    Whereas yours verges on fantasy. Typical PV panel size is about eight square metres per kilowatt."

    VERY poor!! You DO know the difference between evacuated tube heating, and photoelectrics, do you?? Apparently not.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 105.

    "89 Entropic man The coppicing used for biomass is also the traditional way of getting a sustainable supply of firewood"

    There isn't enough land in the UK for everyone to be self-sufficient in wood, there isn't even enough for 1/100th of the currently population to be. Not only have wood prices rocketed with the fashion of wood burners but woods/forests are damaged by people after "free" wood.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 104.

    Perhaps we should ask Mr Shanks if his pony is still available. Just in case you are confused i don't mean that football manager chappie.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 103.

    98. Crow
    The moment there is sunlight, even in winter, a kilowatt is easily had per square metre. The UK's grasp of energy supply engineering is VERY poor.

    Whereas yours verges on fantasy. Typical PV panel size is about eight square metres per kilowatt.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 102.

    @74. Little_Old_Me

    Was the drought everywhere? No.
    Did the rivers stop flowing? No.
    Would reverse Archimedes screws have kept producing electricity? Yes.
    Were the floods everywhere? No.
    Would small scale hydro have made them worse? No.
    Would reverse Archimedes screws have kept producing electricity? Yes.

    They are individually small, but collectively massive and have a lot of potential. Read up.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 101.

    From 99. englishvote:
    "The National Grid requires a “Base load generating Capacity”, wind, solar and wave cannot provide that, fact!"

    People who shout FACT! usually haven't got one. Facts speak for themselves. I'll shout because when I spoke you didn't listen. EVERY WATT FOUND NATURALLY IS ONE THAT DOESN'T HAVE TO COME FROM BASE CAPACITY. THIS REDUCES THE DEMAND ON NUCLEAR OR FOSSIL FUEL..

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 100.

    "3 FrozenNorth Hydro sits well for rural areas but so does wind. I sympathise that badly designed wind power can look poor in the wrong place"

    So can Hydro power, look at what they've done to the river Tees at Barnard Castle.

    A stunning view by the castle now looks like something from the docks of Teeside.

    I can't believe it couldn't have been done more sympathetically with the environment. :(

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 99.

    People who claim that renewables replace or mitigate the use of fossil fuels simply fail to understand how our energy structure operates

    The National Grid requires a “Base load generating Capacity”, wind, solar and wave cannot provide that, fact !

    Without it the lights go out, industry shuts down, then we all find out what poverty really means

    Only answer is Nuclear or fossil fuels

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 98.

    From 95. englishvote:
    "To power a modern city you need industrial scale energy production, if not fossil fuels then it has to be nuclear"

    Low grade solar heat on a cloudy day is enough to reduce the fuel needed to raise water from about 10C to 100C. The moment there is sunlight, even in winter, a kilowatt is easily had per square metre. The UK's grasp of energy supply engineering is VERY poor.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 97.

    So little from solar. This is really disappointing. National trust properties have massive roof areas. When they need replacing they should be using solar slates which have already been used on listed buildings. As for wind I agree that the landscape around their properties is too sensitive but then so is the landscape around the rest of our homes.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 96.

    Well done the NT.

    As for those complaining that the % is irrelevant they are wrong! If the NT only used 5% renewables this would be far worse than what they have achieved 50%. The huge amount of energy from renewables they are using is IN PLACE OF non-renewable energy which is damaging the environment.

    The NT should be applauded and let's hope many others follow their excellent example.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 95.

    NT Ickworth House is going over to biomass fuel for heating. Which is of course log burning.

    A good idea, cheap and plentiful supply of wood, considering they have 1,800 acres of land

    But is hardly an example that the rest of us can copy

    To power a modern city you need industrial scale energy production, if not fossil fuels then it has to be nuclear

 

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