Can you overdose on Electric Vehicles..? Nah bring it on. National Trust cramming EV evaluation

Lots and lots of choice. Wall to wall or should i say tower to tower electric vehicles at the stunning Chirk castle

Lots and lots of choice. Wall to wall or should I say tower to tower electric vehicles at the stunning Chirk castle

It was a long hard day trying out lots and lot of electric vehicles at Chirk Castle. (drop the ‘hard bit’) Thanks to Steve Harland of the National Trust Procurement team we had over 24 manufacturers and wall to wall electric vehicles. He has been working with Lex Auto leasing and SHB hire and they have done us proud in bringing together such a divers collection of electric vehicles together for the National Trust team to evaluate… and there was a lot to evaluate! …..”Can this carry a tonne? Ground clearance for our track is a bit tight” Does it come in pink?” (ok, not pink) and variations on ‘how much, how far, how long?” Kevin from the charity ZeroCarbonWorld was also on hand to help with questions around the charging points.

The EV market is moving and at pace. Expanding and also offering more choice. It was interesting to see VW’s take on EV which was to sort of offer it as an extra on a standard car. Where as BMW had gone down the slightly more bespoke route (ps both were excellent cars). Not sure there has been such a concentration of EV’s like this in Wales before but with the back-cloth of Chirk Castle it was a special day. (ps Chirk is also crammed full of energy efficiency and renewables as well). Looking forward to when we move as an organisation to this sort of vehicle becoming the norm and not the extra.

Cheesy grins all round. Adam from Bodnant has been looking for a utility EV for a few months now. Nothing beats trying a few together

Cheesy grins all round. Adam from National Trust Bodnant has been looking for a utility EV for a few months now. Nothing beats trying a few together


The past and the future?

Chirk also has two electric vehicle charge points, which were in full use!

Chirk also has two electric vehicle charge points, which were in full use!

Shane looking resplendent...

Shane the property General Manager showing the latest visitor EV offering at the Castle. Looking resplendent…


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Industry recognition for Plas Newydd marine source heat pump system

Huge congratulations to both Stiebel Eltron and Kimpton Building Services as the Plas Newydd heat pump project gained industry recognition at the Energy Efficiency and Renewables Awards 2014 yesterday.
John Felgate from Stiebel Eltron is pictured looking quite pleased after receiving the award for commercial project of the year. I also have it from a close contact at the award ceremony that shortly after this picture was taken he disappeared in case he was asked to buy any drinks!
Well done all.

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National Trust entrusted with worlds first proper field trial of an all electric Electric Land Rover

Stunning and stunning

Stunning and stunning (image Wynn Owen)

We (The National Trust) are privileged to be entrusted by Jaguar Land Rover with something really special. A prototype, all-electric Land Rover on its first ‘real’ sojourn into its proper off-road life. Think 4×4 and gas guzzling unsustainable thoughts some to mind. But think farming, moving stock, trailers, reaching far-flung off-road parts of the farm and a 4×4 is not a luxury but its the only thing which will do the job.

Hafod y Llan on Snowdon is the single largest in hand farm in the National Trust. Those of you following the blog will have seen our work over the last few years to make the farm fit for the future. Everything from biomass to hydros. Heat pumps to LED. One of our  Achilles heels in our drive to reduce our impact is our reliance on fossil fuel (diesel) in our vehicles. We have been trailing electric vehicles at the farm but the elephant in the room has been the small fleet of necessary 4×4 vehicles which are ever-present on site. The nice new shiny and very silver electric Land Rover which  arrived six months ago will be our first baby steps to addressing our addiction to diesel. For the farm we already grow the fuel for electric vehicles and it would be good to use more of it on site, Both on environmental but also economical grounds.

Follow as we and Land Rover learn during this prototypes vehicles introduction to Snowdonia and the hard work which is mountain farming. Lets see how many Welsh Black bulls this vehicle can tow!

Its all been hush hush because of the trial. but yesterday i was driving the Land Rover from Hafod y Llan to the Hafod y Porth hydro and someone flagged me down and said. Oh this is the vehicle i was reading about in the NT magazine yesterday… ah secret no more!

Happy in its environment!

Happy in its environment!

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Boiler built, wood chipped, heating works – Croft Castle is ready for winter.

A view of Croft Castle, Herefordshire.

‘Whatever happened to biomass at Croft Castle?’ I hear you say……’didn’t I see a blog about it way back in 2013?’ Well, I’m glad to say it’s here, it works and now we have the keys.

We have a guest blog from Ed on the latest of the Renewable Energy Investment Programme system to go live. Over to Ed…C1

My names Ed and I inherited the project a few months ago just as the first spade hit the ground. What a great time to come into it. Jo (the project manager) and the team did 18 months of hard slog to get the project planned and then, thanks to a timely baby on Jo’s behalf, I got to see it all built. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly construction happens after all that development work, but here we are three months down the line providing good clean energy to the Croft Castle site.

Boiler house and fuel hopper

Boiler house and fuel hopper

So what have we got? A 199kW biomass boiler, powered by our very own woodchip produced on the local estate and a buried heat main supplying power to the castle, stables, a holiday cottage and a farm. Oh, and a sliding roof (think Thunderbirds) to allow maximum woodchip storage – it’s amazing.

Sliding roof in action - more woodchip please

Sliding roof in action – more woodchip please

To christen the site we held our first tour last weekend at the Green Living event. There aren’t many sites where you can see the whole biomass process in a short walk, but you certainly can at Croft. It really brings home the sustainable nature of this project, seeing our woodland, next year’s log piles (80 tonnes of it), woodchip in the store, the boiler ready and waiting, and the property heating systems at the end of the heat main – it’s all there.

The First fire

The First fire

No more oil, more efficient heating, 52 tonnes less Co2 released annually, savings on daily fuel costs and a sustainable power source for years to come. What’s not to like?


Ed Wood








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Community energy. Bloody mindedness needed and it works despite the system!

friendly, effective and bloody minded (in a very good way) stars from Abergwyngregyn . Jacqui, Gavin and Emlyn

Saturday and I was reading the Guardian’s article on social finance and it was superb to see the Anafon Hydro there in print. Few hours later and I was in Abergwyngregyn for AberDabberDoo or the launch of the community share offer for this £1.2m hydro. (£41k of shares sold up to today…way to go!) This just happens to be one of the largest community hydros south of the Scottish border. Good coffee, good friends and some owls thrown in for good measure. The superb event and the Guardian article got me thinking. The one thing the article did not get over was the sheer bloody mindedness needed by a community to make this sort of thing happen. The finance, contractual, partnerships, government policies and then technical are really stacked up… i would not say against a community but it does not join together in a coherent way. I have a nice advantage in both being immersed in community energy and also working as a developer in my day-to-day job. A community has quite a few more hurdles to leap over than a developer. A developer does not need to bring a community up to speed in terms of technical, financial and management. Then explain how an IPS works when trying to open a bank account (this is a stunning example of the education needed out there in the big bad banking world. I think a drugs cartel has less hassle when opening a laundering racket than a community opening a simple deposit account. We then we get to the ever-moving feast which is the Feed in tariff. A quick-moving developer will struggle on a three-year hydro project to get everything in place before tariffs drop. If you’re a community armed with good-will and intention who also just happen to be volunteers who also have a day job then its a very steep hill indeed. It’s good to see the government giving community FIT for up to 10MW systems. In my work in Wales a 100kw level would be nice. I have recently seen 5 hydros become unviable in S Wales for a social undertaking. The social sector needs more support. Not saying more money but levelling the playing field, keeping the goal posts in the same place for long enough and then getting the enablers (planning, finance, consents) to work together would  transform community energy from a handful to a real movement (ps the 5 sites i mentioned earlier are still viable for a developer because of how they work…cheaper finance, buying power and such like). Observation over!  there are some awe-inspiring people and communities out there but we should be moving from needing stubbornness as a skill into one where business acumen should be enough.

There are good sharing networks out there. DEG workshop tomorrow in Llangefni is a good example of sharing and enabling . Renew Wales, Ynni’r Fro, Community Energy Wales are also superb examples…but the community energy building blocks need to be re-looked at. They don’t slot together very well at the moment!

My son and Owl not seeing eye to eye at AberDabberDoo on Saturday!

My son and Owl not seeing eye to eye at AberDabberDoo on Saturday! Superb event!

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Good weather, good friends and good renewables. A day of show and tell with team NT Wales and friends

What can i say? Location, Location, Location. (oh and weather) NT Wales team and guests over at Plas Newydd yesterday

What can I say? Location, Location, Location. (oh and weather) NT Wales team and guests over at Plas Newydd yesterday

Yesterday and we were all in show and tell mode. The sun was hot, skies were blue and 50 people from NT Wales plus a few from the fit for the future network were over with us. The purpose of the day was to look at what we are calling the big three. The three biggest renewable energy projects completed to date in the National Trust (Plas Newydd, Hafod y Llan and Hafod y Porth…completed ish for the third one). With people from properties all over Wales there was a real buzz around what is possible. We were fielding questions around the technical bits and also questions around “what we could do at other properties…” Our furthest travelling visitor was Phil from Perth. (Not Australia)

Nuff said... renewables can be confusing even for professionals. (image R .Williams. Funny!)

Nuff said… renewables can be confusing even for professionals. (image R .Williams. Funny!)

We had a good look at the Marine source heat pump and PV at Plas Newydd in the morning. The weather really did make the day. There is no bluer sky than the one above Plas Newydd on one of those days. At lunch time it was over to the mountains for a farm and hydro afternoon. Tenants from the NT Dolaucothi estate in Carmarthenshire were up to look at possibilities and The Bodnant team were over to look at solutions. The feedback has been really positive and  i think this is the start of more sharing to come… hope we can sort the weather as well next time

Nothing beats seeing and experiencing renewables close up. it show's you what is possible

Nothing beats seeing and experiencing renewables close up. It show’s you what is possible

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From a twinkle in the eye to the “ta-dah” moment


Another day in the National Trust, another fabulous property which offers a world of opportunity!

Last Friday saw me over in the East of England at Felbrigg Hall to assist in the scoping out and options appraisal of potential renewable heating systems for the hall, catering and holiday cottages.  As we move up a gear in the trusts Renewable Energy Investment programme we are developing our “pool” of consultants and contractors who can assist properties to turn twinkles in the eye into reality. My role = to be the short, bald critical eye over the process, and to ensure the unique requirements of the national Trust are incorporated into the options appraisal.Felbrigg4

For example: the constraints of working within our special places and listed environments; how we are asking our heating systems very often to not only keep people warm and provide hot water for our staff and visitors, but how conservation management of relative humidity is right up there on our list of essentials.

Not an insignificant challenge, but when you look at how stunning the property is you cannot fail to appreciate why we are doing what we do!Felbrigg1

Saturday morning provided the opportunity to meet with our visitors and show them first hand behind the scenes at Plas Newydd heat pump system as part of the Wales Green Living Events 2014 programme. As always Barbara and Gill at Plas Newydd had organised things and ensured that all I had to do was turn up and do the fun bit leading guided tours.Green Living day1

The heat pump tours attracted over 50 members of the public during the day, and Barbara took over in the afternoon offering the property perspective of the whole project (sshhhh – dont tell her we had managed to sneak a sticker onto her person in a professional kind of way).Green Living day2 Huge well done to the property team for such a successful day.

They even arranged glorious weather.

Yesterday saw Keith and I undertaking “The Big Three Energy day” – an opportunity for National Trust staff and tenants (and a few others as well) to see first hand renewable projects that have been completed recently, as well as those currently underway.Spot the hydro









More from Keith on this later, but the day offered the chance to see size and scale, as well as ask questions on the systems and provoke thoughts on what can be achieved back at their own properties.

Now back to business case papers and audit paperwork (or maybe I will just go and check how the Kettle is working first)

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