Views from Brazil. Interns perspective of her first 4 weeks with National Trust Wales

Samanta with the Chirk Castle Biomass system

Samanta with the Chirk Castle Biomass system

Hi! My name is Samanta, I am an Environmental Engineering student from Brazil, taking part in a project called ‘Science without Borders’, a programme created by the Brazilian Government to support university students to study and work abroad for one year. I have been studying Environmental Science in Bangor University since last September, and now I am working with Keith and Paul for my last months in Wales.

My first few weeks have been great. I have been visiting different places and seeing a lot. I was really impressed to see how the National Trust works, and its commitment to making its properties more environmentally friendly by replacing fossil fuels with renewable sources of energy. The places I have been to include the Hafod y Llan farm on Snowdon, where I was shown a biomass boilers and two hydros, and Plas Newydd, with its solar PV array and a marine source heat pump. It is such a great opportunity to be able to see projects such as these, and understand how they work.

I also found it interesting to see how the National Trust is installing electrical vehicles charging points in their properties, free to use. It not only encourages people to use electrical vehicles, but also brings visitors to the properties.

I am currently involved in reviewing and writing case studies for the marine source heat pump at Plas Newydd and the hydro at Hafod y Llan on Snowdon. Researching hydro companies and equipment and I am also helping on the process of replacing the oil boilers at Bodnant Garden with a biomass boiler, and the installation of a solar PV.

I am honestly impressed with what the National Trust has been doing in relation to the environment, and also Keith and Paul’s involvement and commitment to it. It has been a great opportunity to work with them, and see how it is possible to generate energy from so many different sources, and how it can be done in small scale as well. This experience is certainly giving me a whole new vision on renewable energy.

This was her 'office' last week!

Part of a working day for Samanta. Last week it was Chirk Castle

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Electric Vehicle charging points. National Trust Wales… only one mansion to go and we have a full house?

The electric vehicle charger in front of the visitor centre at Dyffryn Gardens near Cardiff

The electric vehicle charger in front of the visitor centre at Dyffryn Gardens near Cardiff

Its been 18 months in the doing but we are down to our last mansion to receive an Electric Vehicle charging point. All of the mansions / castle sites in Wales are now proud owners of electric vehicle charging points. All of which are free to use. This has been an interesting if challenging project. No two sites have the same wiring, car-park point, accessibility, security and so on. 26 of the systems have been kindly donated by zero carbon world which is a charity dedicated to extending the availability of electric vehicle chargers. In quite a few of the rural locations around Wales The National Trust Wales points are the only ones to be had but I hope it’s the start of something exciting as we try to decarbonise travel. We have also been the recipients of a second charger for Chirk castle from those kid people at Pod chargers. Only one mansion to go at Tredegar House!

but we have plans for many more… watch this space!

One of two EV charger systems at Chirk castle

One of two EV charger systems at Chirk castle

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World Tour of the Lake District pt2. Does your biomass have a climbing wall?

Cool or what. Biomass building with its own climbing wall!

Cool or what. Biomass building with its own climbing wall!

Follow on from yesterday’s blog. This was a look at the NT Great Langdale camp site next to the Stickle Gill hydro. Proper Green camping! It amazed me the vast amount of hot water a camp site goes through for showers. So much so Great Langdale has a new 150kw Herz wood chip biomass system charging a huge 10,000 litre buffer tank. Most of this water is for showers for the happy campers. Garry and I did have a chat about harvesting this heat from the waste water. Plenty of thinking required on this. The campsite also has a 4kw PV system on the reception block. It does work quite well but being in a valley bottom does limit the overall yield. But what it does generate it does use on site. No visit to an NT site would be complete without someone pointing out a possible hydro and true to form the camp site might have one to supply its electricity…but thats another story. Overall stunning site, energy efficiency push and ‘nice’ and simple district heating wood chip system….with a climbing wall bolted on the outside. This must be a first!

Lots of biomass. including a store  for the campsite charcoal. 150kw wood chip system with a mother of a buffer tank

Lots of biomass. including a store for the campsite charcoal. 150kw wood chip system with a mother of a buffer tank

Nice and discreet PV in the campsite

Nice and discreet PV in the campsite

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World tour of the Lake District pt1.’Hydro Hunting’ with the NT’s Bear Grylls!

one man in his environment. Hydro hunting with Garry in the North West. Like a pig in....

One man in his environment. Hydro hunting with Garry in the North West. Like a pig in…. (muck)

Yesterday and it was a complete contrast to the splendour of the day before at Dyffryn Gardens. Now we had the grandeur of the Lake Distinct to cope with. It a bit of an assault on the brain all this stunning…ness. Swapping vistas and terraces for Fells, Becks and Ghyll’s. I was up for a day with Garry my colleague in the north-west. One of my roles is to peer review projects or generally have a nose around. The one thing which amazes me about the North West is the sheer number of possible projects but also unlike Wales the electricity grid or lack of it is a real challenge. Where the possibility of renewable energy generation ‘is’ the grid is often ‘not’ or is very weak which means its difficult to export the power. But this does not mean there is enough for a lifetimes work! I would not let Garry know this bit I am a tinsey winsey jealous of the sheer number of possible sites up there in the North West… But popping up there every few weeks for a look-see and some soggy feet (pre requisite of looking for hydros) keeps me happy

The National Trusts 'Bear Grills' deep in a 'Beck' hunting for hydros

The National Trusts ‘Bear Grylls’ deep in a ‘Beck’ hunting for hydros

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Fit for the future network film. National Trust Wales

We continue to grow. Chloe the network coordinator has been to some special places in the last few weeks to meet… I will leave that up to her! (but we now have 80- large organisations in the network!) I have been playing with a new editing package and came up with this. The purpose is to show what we are all about and where the network came from (Link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DiSoF5X4f7E ) #suckerforagadget

new youtube film on the network

new YouTube film on the network 

 

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Getting energised at the East’s Summer Festival

Glastonbury, Latitude, T in the Park: all hot tickets. But the festival you really wanted to be at was NT East of England’s Summer Festival. Not just for the sunshine, bunting, happy smiling faces of 250 staff and volunteers, ice cream, space hoppers, welly wangling and picnic lunch – although there was plenty of all of that.

250 staff and volunteers picnic together

250 staff and volunteers picnic together

Go back several months and I’m nervously pitching, Dragon’s Den style, for a place at our first ever regional festival (replacing Spring Conference). I hedged my bets with four ideas. Well, as a certain couple from Wales would say, be careful what you wish for… After much begging, borrowing and raiding of cupboards and lofts – there was almost no budget – we were at the festival with all four different themed activities in our “Get Energised” workshop.

No powerpoints allowed, we went for diverse activities which would satisfy both yin and yang but, most importantly, would be FUN! Because people remember and like doing fun things, even if these have a serious message behind them. Fits with our behavioural change aim to achieve Beautiful Action (thanks Mr Immanuel Kant, 1724 – 1804) i.e. action you want to do, rather than action you feel you have to do.

A cosy afternoon tea - insulation lessons from the humble tea cosy

A cosy afternoon tea – insulation lessons from the humble tea cosy

So, you could learn about insulation illustrated by the humble tea cosy, inspired by Tony Price’s post on this blog of 18 September 2013. One ‘naked’ teapot, one with a tea cosy and one with a tea cosy plus cork board. Hot water then thermometer probes in each and watch the difference. Phew! I’d only partially tried the experiment before the day itself, so was pretty relieved that the theory was proved perfectly. The tea cosies were made with love – kindly donated by the sheep of Orford Ness, and knitted by Consultancy Manager, Sarah Bowers and Rural Surveyor, Anna Brookman.

Getting hands on with woodfuel

Getting hands on with woodfuel

Woodfuel for thought was provided by Simon Damant from Wimpole Estate and Ian Pease from Hatfield Forest. They demonstrated the process of growing your own BBQ, from an enormous 2 person saw, to old and new types of charcoal maker, and pimps and faggots (see Simon’s blog for explanation of these rural terms). People loved getting hands on at making fuel and products from our timber.

Ben Cowell, Regional Director, generates enough power to make a smoothie

Ben Cowell, Regional Director, generates enough power to make a smoothie

People, including our Regional Director, Ben Cowell, found out just how much energy it takes to power a smoothie maker by having to pedal for their drink.

Lastly but not least, LED. We really wanted to showcase this and get rid of the myth once and for all that it’s a blue, cold, harsh light. So we showed a range of lamps from Heritage Lighting and Lyco, part of our growing ‘LED lending library’, using a neat demo board.

Our new Energy Reduction Adviser, Jack Caldwell, demonstrates LED lamps

Our new Energy Reduction Adviser, Jack Caldwell, demonstrates LED lamps

The star of the show in terms of innovation and general loveliness was the artificial Luminara candle. You have got to see these. The indoor candles are made of real wax (there is an outdoor version in plastic as well) with a tiny warm white LED lamp (0.3 Watts), reflected onto a ‘flame’ which moves just like the real thing thanks to magnets and is incredibly realistic – they can be viewed at www.luminara.co.uk

All the lighting in this picture is produced by LED

All the lighting in this picture is produced by LED

We ‘dressed’ the nice dark room in two styles that we may use at our properties – Christmas (hence the loft raiding) and a First World War commemoration, complete with Flanders poppy seeds for people to take away. At last we can have the sparkle without the sparks; you have to keep reminding yourself they are not real and it’s OK that they are in a paper bag, next to the curtains or balanced on a Christmas tree. I lost count of the number of “wow”s I heard.

WW1 display: candles come in a range of colours for different effects

WW1 display: candles come in a range of colours for different effects

Director General Helen Ghosh also helped launch our regional Environmental Awards – more on that to come later.

Great team effort, great fun, great feedback: “I enjoyed Get Energised. Best smoothie ever – really enjoyed knowing that I made it with the power of my own legs!” Eleanor Akinlade, House and Collections Manager, Felbrigg Hall.

Now how do we top that next year?

Posted in Biomass, East of England, energy efficiency, Energy generation, insulation, LED and lighting | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Please show me the life of a sustainable KW hour”. Good Energy help reveal the alchemy to the National Trust team

This was Paul and my request. We have been dealing in Kwh hours now for quite a few years. Jargon, regulation and a bit of miss understanding surrounds this simple measurement of energy. Two days ago we arranged a meeting with those nice people at Good Energy at their HQ in Chippenham to give us the ‘Noddy’ version of energy trading but also to explain all the embedded aspects within a simple KW. (its not just feed in tariff and export…there is a whole world of LEC, GDUoS, REGO TRIADS, Balancing and Settlement… the upshot of the day in terms of what makes up a KWh is?…it depends if your buying, selling, supplying, trading… But once you start generating at medium scale all of those small amounts of additional benefits (for benefit see income) are really worth going after over and above the normal FIT and Export

Then we got into trading… this is when you have to suspend all that you have learnt in terms of data, analysis, modelling, weather. This trading depends on a battery of factors including for example a really exciting Coronation Street mixed with a refinery in Kuwait being serviced and also which way the wind is blowing. All have a direct and indirect impact on the value of energy in the UK. This has to be predicted every half an hour and energy value is traded on up to 3 million indicators a day. So in terms of if we (you and me) want to put the kettle on or not this  x 20 million kettles has a direct impact on the value of the energy Good Energy has to buy or sell. It was a real eye opener. Muchas Gracias Good Energy for a look behind the curtain

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