It all got a bit eclipsie and then the geese went nuts. @nationaltrust

and there it was this morning. the Eclipse above Llyndu Isaf farm in Snowdnia

…and there it was this morning. The Eclipse above  the National Trust Llyndu Isaf farm in Snowdonia

I was down in Nantgwynant this morning on the southern side of Snowdon to have a look at the new biomass and heat pumps installed and then it got chilly and eery and i remembered that we were due a partial eclipse. As 09:35 hit 8 geese out on the lake did the opposite of a hush and went absolutely bonkers. It sort of broke the calm of the occasion but it did emphasise that something different was happening!

the eery light did play with my camera settings a bit but i quite like the result.

The eery light did play havoc with my camera settings a bit but I quite like the result above Llyn Dinas (Llyndu Isaf farm)

Llyndu-Isaf-1

Posted in Wales | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Community Heat Conference. My musings #communityheat

 

Ian Manders UK Policy Advisor to the Danish Trade Council showing us an energy future which we can only dream of here in the UK... but you never know!

Ian Manders UK Policy Advisor to the Danish Trade Council showing us an energy future which we can only dream of here in the UK… but you never know!

Yesterday was Birmingham and I had been invited to talk as part of the DECC community heat conference. My focus was the Plas Newydd marine source, community opportunity and also risks  based on the NT few years of experience in renewable heat. As with all these gatherings (about 200 people in the grand surroundings of the county hall in the middle of the city) we could at best deal with the highlights without any real detail. Cramming 3 years of development on a heat pump into 4 mins was a challenge but the NT lessons from 10 years + of biomass and renewable heat in a similar time frame was even more of a challenge. My main advice was to “go in with your eyes wide open and question”

The presentation which really stuck in my mind was that of Ian Manders . He covered the development of the 50,000km of district heating in Denmark and the 100% renewables targets. A throw away comment from him “In Denmark you are required not to waste heat” really stuck with me.  Wow this will never catch on here! On personal level this is really where you can probably see market failure and Government need to take a stance. A market which is slanted at selling stuff like energy finds it very difficult to sell “selling less” of something to its share holders and so energy efficiency is left to the will of the market and we carry on wasting at a huge scale

From the conference I saw as many challenges in community heat as there are wins. For example small non domestic  biomass(<200kw) RHI payment levels are currently falling off a cliff in terms of digression but I suppose this is a balancing system and this drop will drive innovation to reduce costs in order to maintain a margin from this support mechanism. Heat is 60% of our energy need but does not seem to have inspired such a spark in developers as electricity generation but i suppose all good things take time. I hope the conference yesterday is the start of something… it got us thinking which is good measure of success for a conference!

on leaving the city hal i saw this hole in the ground. we do have a lot of work if we want distrct heating systems like the Danes. But the irony is that Birmingham has already installed it into its major city centre buildings. It can be and has been done!

On leaving the city hall I saw this hole in the ground. We do have a lot of work if we want district heating systems like the Danes. (we have very crowded ground) But the irony is that Birmingham has already installed it into its major city centre buildings. It can be and has been done!

Posted in Biomass, Heat pump, Wales | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ickworth House – serious about getting off oil

RotundaTime for another guest blog – this time from project manager and general all round good egg Stephanie Hall. Over to you Steph!

Last week work started on site for the final REI Programme Pilot project at Ickworth House.  We’re installing a 199kW wood chip biomass boiler which will be serving the conservation heated Rotunda and the West Wing which is used as commercial space using wood fuel harvested from the Estate.

The existing boiler room isn’t suitable for biomass plant so we’re converting a range of 1960s garages which are right next to the Grade I Listed West Wing into the new plant room for the boiler.   Whilst the building isn’t listed it does fall within the curtilage of the listed structure and is also within the registered park and gardens.  We’ve therefore had to spend a lot of time in the feasibility and design process  making sure that we got things right, this meant making some compromises on fuel storage capacity and flue height in addition to developing proposals to improve the aesthetics of the garages.  I think you’ll agree it’s a pretty ugly building at the moment…photo 1

So what’s the plan of action? Well firstly we need to make alterations to the building so that it can accommodate the new plant.  For the first couple of weeks we’re concentrating on removing the roof deck and dismantling the front elevation and internal dividing walls.

 

  Yesterday they were making good progress with the roof…Roof 3

But in two weeks’ time the exciting stuff begins as new steelwork will be going in and the new and improved front elevation (designed to resemble a gardener’s bothy) will begin to be constructed so that by early May we’ll end up with a rather beautiful building ready to receive the biomass plant…

 

 

306_11 3D Visualisation 3D visualisation. Credit: Robert Turner Associates

Posted in Biomass, East of England, Energy generation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

World exclusive – we can grow our own building materials. Ground breaking discovery!

the latest timber building to the fleet. the soon to be launched. NT Penrhyn Castle visitor centre. Grown, harvested and milled 4 miles away at the Faenol

The latest timber building to the fleet. The soon to be launched NT Penrhyn Castle visitor centre. Grown, harvested and milled four miles away at the Faenol

Imagine a carbon locking material that can be made only water, solar energy and some trace minerals. This material is both durable, strong, waterproof and above all looks great. This new damned fangled material is not favoured by many mainstream builders, architects and engineers.  It is often simply used for decoration, soften the look of steel, clad concrete and cover breeze block. At the end of its life this which can be many hundreds of years if looked after is neither hazardous, toxic or in fact take up valuable room in landfill. It can be re-used… and this miracle material? I supposed the images are a bit of a giveaway. Wood…

the Hafod y Llan tubine building. Oh and the Hafod y Porth Turbine building and the Gorsen Hydro turing building made from Larch from the Ysbyty Ifan Estate

the Hafod y Llan turbine building. Oh and the Hafod y Porth Turbine building and the Gorsen Hydro turing building made from Larch from the Ysbyty Ifan Estate

Ecological footprint, vernacular, healthy building, carbon footprint and the list goes on. The NT is not holier than though in terms of use of other materials for speed, performance, use or simply what we have always used to and so on. But I can say hand on heart we are getting better! There are still building regulation challenges, organising a project to include wood, design the structure challenges of timber. This miracle material needs a lot more support to become more mainstream. Imagine if scientists found this ‘wood’ martial today and launched it on the world with its performance CV. We’d think it was a miracle material. But why don’t we recognise this aspect today? There are beams of cedar of Lebanon still doing their original work inside the pyramids, elm drains under chester from roman times and so on. Wood is good in the C21

the faenol wardens base near bangor. made from timber which was harvested some 500m away (thats meters not miles). the roof is shingled in that useless wood. Leylandii (but is really good for cladding)

The Faenol wardens base near Bangor. made from timber which was harvested some 500m away (That’s meters not miles). the roof is shingled in that useless wood. Leylandii (but it’s really good for cladding)

Mills - Milling new campsite furniture from timber which was felled 2 miles away from Hafod y Llan

Mills – Milling new campsite furniture from timber which was felled 2 miles away from Hafod y Llan

...and the bits you dont build out of keeps you warm, biodiversity habitats, furniture and so on.

…and the bits you don’t build out of keeps you warm, biodiversity habitats, furniture and so on.

Posted in Biomass, Wales | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The heat is on. Multiple renewable heating systems being installed by the National Trust… today!

the old farm house in the back ground. the first of the 3 x 100m boreholes being finished

The old farm-house in the back ground. The first of the 3 x 100m boreholes being finished. The newer farm-house on the right has the Klover 120 wood pellet range cooker installed. Demonstration farm!

A quick visit to Hafod y Llan this morning to have a look at what’s happening on the heating front. It’s all go here and a few other properties

  • Clive is installing 2 new heavy mass wood pellet space heaters at Plas Newydd tea room and the new visitor centre at Penrhyn Castle
  • Hafod y Llan is busy installing a new Froling biomass boiler into the farm office. Emyr Hall the NT building surveyor is also installing a new  borehole 30kw Ground Source Heat Pump (GSHP) into the old farm-house which is undergoing a refurbishment as a new holiday cottage.
  • A mile down the road 2 new Stiebel Eltron air to water heat pumps are also being installed into the Llyndu farm-house and flat.
  • The heat-pumps mentioned above should be (cross fingers) supplied by two new Peco hydros in the coming year or so but as ever that’s another blog!
  • the soon to be converted C17 farm house which has been empty since the 60's

    The soon to be converted C17 farm-house which has been empty since the 60’s. Ps the chimney on the left is supposed to be that angle. We stopped it from falling into the house. The house will be Hydro and PV electric supplied, Ground source heat pump, drinking water from the mountain, heritage building and insulated to within an inch of its life. Oh and its has a path which goes  up Snowdon at the back of the house. Whats not to like?

    Drill-rih-Hafod-y-Llan-GSHP-stuck

    what do toy do when you have 90m of drill stuck in the ground. you very slowly jack it out of the ground

    What do you do when you have 90 meters of drill stuck in the ground. You very slowly jack it out of the ground

the new 15kw Froling biomass system being installed into the farm. Toasty!

The new 15kw Froling biomass system being installed into the farm. Toasty!

Posted in Biomass, Heat pump, PV, Wales | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Decisions, decisions… climate change, sea level rise, nuclear, heritage buildings, renewables, biodiversity, people… changing world

Grade 2* Felin Gafnan next to the old Wylfa Nuclear Power Station. About to be n very 'next' to the new Wylfa. Changing coast

Energy coast on N Anglesey. Tidal, Nuclear, heritage mill and few miles from quite a few wind turbines. Grade 2* Felin Gafnan next to the old Wylfa Nuclear Power Station. About to be very ‘next’ to the new Wylfa. Changing coast

 Yesterday was one of those ‘interesting’ days with John, Kathy, Andy and Bryn. North Anglesey and the area around and between the old Wylfa Nuclear Power station and the Cemlyn Bay tidal lagoon. The factors, decisions and impacts affecting this area are incredible.

  • Climate change and the current sea level rise moving or removing the tidal lagoon and all the associated flora and fauna. Loss of agricultural land, farm buildings and so on
  • The new £10b nuclear power station which will be built along the old one and abutting NT land. 11m tonnes of waste soil and rock, worlds tallest crane, carving out a new harbour and this list goes on
  • The impact on the grade 2* Felin Gafnan water-mill and its setting
  • Renewable energy from the tidal turbines planned nearby. Grid infrastructure, impact on the AONB
  • and  on an on. Jobs, water supply, access, coastal path, culture, opportunity

It was a bit mind-boggling but also a microcosm of the world in general (a very big microcosm). What was good about the day was seeing the deep thinking which is currently underway in the NT. One of the old definitions of conservation was ” the management of change” and this area on the N Anglesey coast is the premier league of change. Historic, active and man-made.

IMG_0407

This is why I had been invited. could we harness the small tidal power from the lagoon at Cemlyn. The answer is simple. No we could not. sea level rise changing the nature of the site, no grid,  heavy infrastructure for a small gain.

 

the challange we all face. to the left the Irish Sea. To the right farm land and farm houses. Cemlyn Lagoon area is undergoing change

the challenge we all face. ‘Change’! To the left the Irish Sea. To the right farm land and farm buildings. Cemlyn Lagoon area is undergoing change

Felin Gafnan Mill. stuning local. what do you do with this listed building which is right on the coast? (my feet were in salt water taking the picture

Felin Gafnan Mill. stunning location. What do you do with this listed building which is right on the coast? (my feet were in salt water taking the picture

and this little treasure behind the mill

and this little treasure is behind the mill

 

Posted in Wales | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

see….its not all sunshine and flip flops in the world of hydros

its amazing how long you can spend talking about drysone walls when you know you have a long walk ahead of you. If you look carefully you can see the 40mph snow coming in from the left. Still...it was better than the office!

its amazing how long you can spend talking about dry-stone walls when you know you have a long walk ahead of you. If you look carefully you can see the 40 mph snow coming in from the left. Still…it was better than being in the office! A potential biomass in a mansion looks so much simpler (and warmer) on a day like this! (Image – Sabine Nouvet )

We have plenty of images of sapphire blue skies and tranquil waters whilst out doing the job we do in this blog. Last week was a bit more like it. Snow laden lazy wind (too lazy to go around you and so it cuts straight through you) A team of us were high up in Nantgwynant looking at some of the potential sites. This was more of an induction for our new project manager Rob who starts in a month or so. The weather was playing ball and giving everyone the authentic experience! My eye balls were hurting by the time we got down!

We have two sites in the planning process at the moment. We should have them finalised to add to the Berthen Hydro in the next few weeks. the cold dry weather means the Snowdon hydro is on go slow for now (1.64Gwh so far and not reached 12 months of generation yet) we are currently planning the next 18 months of work and seeing how the hydro packages and biomass slot together in Wales (oh and a couple of mansion sized PV’s as well) Alex is working on something special and simple as a pilot on a holiday cottage. More from Alex later!

But...you do get good moments in bad days. This was the day after in Cwm Idwal when we went out looking for snow with the children! Summer is nice....but so is winter!

But…you do get good moments in bad weather. This was the day after in Cwm Idwal when we went out looking for snow with the children! Summer is nice….but so is winter!

...and the wether got even more authentic as the day went on. John (in the red) wanting two sugars in his tea!

…and the weather got even more authentic as the day went on. John I think (in the red) wanting two sugars in his tea! Emma and Mike in the background with Rob appreciating a nice day in the mountains (Image Sabine Nouvet)

Posted in Hydro, Wales | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment