2014 British Hydro Association Conference. I’ve said it before and I will say it again “we have a lot to learn”

there must be something wrong with the lens. It seems to add 2 stone on you?

There must be something wrong with the lens. It seems to add 2 stone on you? The British Hydro Association Annual Conference

Tuesday and Wednesday and we were back up in Scotland. This time it was for the British Hydro Association annual conference.  First thing on Tuesday morning and in Glasgow I was on BBC Radio Cymru current affairs discussing the latest National Grid Winter Outlook 2014/15 (we are ok…ish)

The nervous bit of the day was my presentation. I was focusing on how we are learning from our past but planning for the future. I was a like a pig in…clover for the next two days. Hydro business rates, EIS investment vehicles, noise attenuation in discharge pipes. I do realise that this sounds a bit… To quote my daughters ‘sad’. The presentations which really showed me the future of renewables and what we could do was the opening address by the MSP Fergus Ewing who had the economic and energy portfolio. The clarity and focus of the Scottish Government gives you confidence. He also recognised that “Hydro’s sustain rural communities” You knew he got it. Now that would have been nice but then James Buchanan of Local Energy Scotland followed with a presentation  after Furgus has set the ‘what’ to James then showing ‘how’ this is being achieved. the CARES (Community and Renewable Energy Scheme)  system in Scotland knits together many of the renewable energy initiatives we have in England and Wales but into a much more significant tool. legal, financial, statutory, business and the list went on. On the second day Simon Puttullo and Ian Jardine of SEPA and SNH the consenting bodies presented their role  (both enabling and also protecting) in delivering the Scottish Government vision for renewables. Impressive. Wish we could cut and paste! It’s not all milk and honey but having the clarity certainly helps everyone in the boat row in the same direction.

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Heating and the South West – A world of possibilities

Sometimes I just stop and go "wow"

Sometimes I just stop and go “wow”

The start of last week found me down in the South-West doing what I think is the best part of my job = being nosey at some stunning properies. The Renewable Energy Investment (REI) programme is picking up pace, and accompanied by David (Environmental Advisor) we spent two days meeting property staff, discussing various options and lining up more detailed feasibility studies.

Between now and end of December we will be building full options analysis, costed delivery figures and beginning to “plan the plan”. As you can imagine no small task when the environment you are working in is so special and decisions are based on appropriateness and ensuring that whatever we decide makes best use of our own resources in order that the properties are not faced with ever increasing energy costs which impedes our core conservation work.

Knightshayes Court

Knightshayes Court

At Buckland Abbey (lead picture) feasibility work will balance the conservation heat requirements with appropriate technology and location of heating plant to ensure that we can continue to look after this stunning property well into the future.

Similarly at Knightshayes Court we will look to integrate the needs of the mansion with the wider estates woodland conservation management work in order to continue to harvest from our own estate well into the future.Coleton Fishacre

David and I also met with Adam at Coleton Fishacre. Lots has already been happening here – with photovoltaics integrated into the catering and welcome buildings. The next phase is to scope out an alternative to the oil fired mansion system as well as the property offices and potentially the holiday accomodation.Coleton PV

Lots of scoping and feasibility, followed no doubt by a few days of headscratching and coffee in order that we not only go forward with the best technological solutions available, but also ones that are appropriate to these special places and appropriate also for the property staff who after all will be operating them once installed.

Will keep you posted as things progress over the coming months.



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National Trust Sickle hydro marching down the mountain.

Stickle Ghyll...early start, misty, drizzly and a little cold...but better than a spread sheet! Autumn is here!

Stickle Ghyll…early start, misty, drizzly and a little cold…but still, better than a spread sheet! Autumn is here!

Autumn is upon us and today was another Lake district day. Looking at the progress of the 100kw Stickle Ghyll hydro and then off to do something with spread sheets and budgets. I was up the mountain early this morning but the contractors had beaten me. I could hear the tell take sounds of ‘pipe installation’ 5 mins up the mountain i saw the completed weir which was resplendent with is new stone cladding. Looking good and looking as though it had been there for years. Three diggers were busy installing the 360mm pipe and another set of lads were down by the pub shuttering for the turbine base and power house floor. all very busy and a nice tidy job. couple of months more and we can turn some of the wet stuff falling out of the sky into KW’s

It was still a bit dark when i got up to the weir point. It was looking good and the new structure was fading into the background.

It was still a bit dark when I got up to the weir point. It was looking good and the new structure was fading into the background.

good to see the 500m of pipe being installed

good to see the 500m of pipe being installed

really good turbine building site. it will be almost invisible from the road.

really good turbine building site. It will be almost invisible from the road.

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Rolling out the green carpet for the Environmental Awards in the East

Happy award winners (photo: Phil Mynott)

Unsung environmental heroes were finally recognised at the first ever National Trust regional Environmental Awards, held last night at Anglesey Abbey near Cambridge. As always, these things start small – with the thought of sending a certificate to the “Meter Manager of the Year” – which grew… and grew… into the pretty glitzy event experienced last night, complete with Bafta-style envelopes to reveal the winners (extraordinary how excited people get about opening an envelope). 

The organisers demonstrating the VIP green 'grass' carpet walkway, complete with timber and rope posts

Some of the organising team demonstrating the VIP green ‘grass’ carpet walkway, complete with timber and rope posts

Guests got to enter via a green ‘grass’ carpet – a remnant (which we no doubt reuse, as visiting children were scootering up and down it as soon as it hit the floor), before sipping Suffolk sparkling wine or cordials. Trophies were hand crafted by Essex woodturner, Nick Bright, and engraved by the Bury St Edmunds’ charity Workwise.

Peter Nixon, the Trust’s Director of Conservation, gave a rousing keynote speech. He explained how appropriate the “Fit” in “Fit for the Future” is, with its connotations of health, resilience and “Phwoar-factor”! The awards were also endorsed by Sonja Graham from Global Action Plan, who have inspired our behavioural change programme.

Helen Dangerfield, Head of Conservation and Sponsor of our Environmental Management System in our region, said:

The awards are something we wanted to do to reward and recognise the huge commitment and efforts made by our teams to think about the environment in all we do. Celebrating achievements is vital in motivating us to keep going. We are delighted that many of our partners have joined with us in supporting these awards.

The award categories were:

Green Team of the Year

And the Winner is… Sheringham Park, Norfolk

Best Energy Reduction, sponsored by Good Energy And the Winner is… Oxburgh Hall, Norfolk. Oxburgh has reduced its energy use by a staggering 35% since 2013. It’s achieved this by LED lighting and changing catering practices, but especially through installing a much more efficient, controllable electrical heating system. Runners up were Sheringham Park and Wicken Fen.

Wise Use of Water Award, sponsored by Anglian Water And the Winner is…Blickling, Norfolk. The team at Blickling has been busy making an array of water-based improvements. A big project is the restoration of a Victorian water management system, which includes a waterwheel, so that it now diverts rain and groundwater to a new irrigation system that feeds the Walled Garden. The system has the added benefit of reducing risk of the house flooding. Runners up were Ickworth and Oxburgh.

Blickling team inspecting the victorian system

The team at Blickling inspecting the restored Victorian system

Waste-not Winner, sponsored by Biffa And the Winner is… Dunwich Heath, Suffolk. The team at Dunwich Heath has made significant steps in improving its recycling and composting. Not only do they achieve a recycling rate of over 70%, but all food waste is diverted from landfill, travelling only eight miles up the road to Adnams’anaerobic digester, which generates biogas for the gas mains. The runner up was Holiday Cottages.

Alison Joseph and Richard Gilbert from Dunwich Heath receive their Waste-not award from Lizzy Carlyle, Head of Environmental Practices

Alison Joseph and Richard Gilbert from Dunwich Heath receive their Waste-not award from Lizzy Carlyle, Head of Environmental Practices (photo: Phil Mynott)

The Acorn Award And the Winner is…  The Countryside Team at Wimpole, Cambridgeshire. Recognising Head Forester Simon Damant’s unabated enthusiasm leading the way in many areas including: woodland management; the revival and promotion of sustainable, traditional countryside skills and crafts (charcoal making, scything, hedge management, green hay, bodging); tree planting in park; hedge planting on large arable fields to reduce erosion and provide habitats; flower rich meadows management and for inspiring a great team of countryside volunteers. The runners up were Pin Mill, Essex and Blickling.

felbrigg cafe

Felbrigg’s refurbished cafe with LED lighting and efficient heaters – but there’s even more going on behind the scenes

 Green Kitchen of the Year And the Winner is… Felbrigg Hall, Norfolk. Energy efficiency was a priority for Catering Manager Alistair Bradshaw when creating Felbrigg Hall’s new tearoom, the Squire’s Pantry, so he selected LED light bulbs and thermonstatically controlled electric heaters. The energy use of all kitchen appliances is monitored, with timers ensuring nothing is left on unnecessarily. All of the food waste produced in the kitchens goes to compost, while glass and materials are recycled. Unsold bread and scones are re-used as the ideal ingredient for a tasty bread pudding, while coffee grinds are given to the Walled Garden as they make a good slug repellent. The runner up was Flatford.

Holiday Cottage Hero And the Winners are… Elizabeth and Don Headley, Dunwich Heath, Suffolk. Elizabeth Headley has been looking after four holiday cottages at Dunwich Heath for eight years, along with her husband Don, who has been a volunteer caretaker for four years. During that time they have improved general recycling, and constructed rain water butts and compost bins. Plastic bottles and old kitchen utensils are re-used as containers for growing plants for the cottage on their allotment. Their commitment to recycling even goes as far as soldering a cheese grater handle back on to save it from being thrown away! The runners up were Les Harvey from Sutton Hoo and Cheryl Taylor from Felbrigg.

Ickworth's new plant centre and toilets incorporates an air source heat pump, rainwater harvesting and water efficient taps and WCs

Ickworth’s new plant centre and toilets incorporates an air source heat pump, rainwater harvesting and water efficient taps and WCs

Fit for the Future Award And the Winner is… Ickworth, Suffolk. Premises Manager David Richardson has led the way at Ickworth with the installation of a variety of energy and water saving measures, reducing energy use despite increased opening times and the opening of the servants’ basement to visitors. These measures include the use of low-energy LED bulbs in chandeliers and show rooms, and restoration and recommissioning of the Edwardian rainwater harvesting system. New projects are designed to minimise environmental impact from the start, such as a log boiler to heat the Porter’s Lodge visitor reception, and an air source heat pump for the new plant centre and toilets. The runners up were Blickling and Oxburgh.

Meter Manager of the Year And the Winner is…Richard Lee, Blickling, Norfolk. Rik ensures all of Blickling’s whopping 61 meters are read on time each month. He never misses a meter and even organises his leave around the meter read weeks to ensure they are completed on time. During that time he’s had to battle through shoulder-height stinging nettles to find water meters, knelt in an ants’ nest whilst sticking his head in the chamber to see a reading only to get up and find ants crawling all over him, had to move frogs off meters so he can read the numbers, and had to fend off curious cows! Runners up were John Stockdale, Brancaster Activity Centre; Richard Gilbert, Dunwich Heath; and Peter Justice, North Norfolk Coast.

Intrepid Meter Manager of the Year, Rik Lee, warms up after taking 61 meter reads and enters them straight into our monitoring system

Intrepid Meter Manager of the Year, Rik Lee, warms up after taking 61 meter reads and enters them straight into our monitoring system

A Special Achievement award was presented to the North Norfolk Coast for their outstanding Energy Outreach project, previously blogged about, which included Energy Busters and efutures.

More pictures and information on the award winners on our conservation blog.

Over 75 people took part in the awards ceremony

Over 75 people took part in the awards ceremony (photo: Phil Mynott)

Posted in Biomass, East of England, energy efficiency, Energy generation, Heat pump, LED and lighting, Waste, Water | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Advantages of Electric Vehicles and the National Trust Wales. Coffee and cake as well as Kilowatts!

Screen Shot 2014-10-19 at 21.48.48It was good to be mentioned in dispatches. What Car’s chief vehicle tester John McILroy tweeted about using the National Trust Penrhyn Castle EV charge point on the way over to Ireland with a new range extended BMW i3 EV (watch this space on this vehicle as well!). Technical difficulties meant that he was caught short with a well know super markets charge point and thanks to Kevin of @zerocarbonworld he came over to see us. Kw’s in the car is one thing. But another energy measurement has gone down just as well. The calorie.  The Penrhyn Latte and walnut cake. When we took the decision to install free to use chargers at every National Trust property in Wales we knew the ‘added benefits’ of an NT property would make the experience a good one. To follow Johns experiences with the car and the journey…follow his blog. http://www.whatcar.com/car-news/october/1315719

Screen Shot 2014-10-19 at 21.33.57




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IWA Wales Energy Summit – Council of despair or planning the plan? #thewaleswewant

Not one for summits normally but yesterdays got me 'thinking' about what we can, should and must do...or 'hell in a hand cart' awaits us.

Not one for summits normally but yesterday got me ‘thinking’ about what we can, should and must do…or ‘hell in a hand cart’ awaits us.

Personal musings!

Getting up at 4am for a 9 o clock event in Cardiff is a challenge in itself. But the Energy Summit in Cardiff yesterday had bigger elephants to fry (mixing my metaphors). I usually avoid summits, workshops and ‘think ins” But the event in Cardiff yesterday got me thinking about what energy and sustainability future do we want? Where are we now, what is our ambition and what will it take?

My impression of the opening session when Oil and LNG where summing up the global situation was “give up, don’t bother getting out of bed, its bigger than anything you can possibly imagine”.  No answers just a feeling of inevitability. My follow on feeling was that i was not sure when it happened but someone has put the lawyers and accounts in charge? No longer serving and enabling but sort of driving the show. The Leaders, innovators and enthusiasts seem to have been put in the passenger seat. From this sobering start some solution drivers started to gain a head of steam. It became obvious through the whole event that its not really a mater of science, economics and planning. But more about leadership. Setting the vision, highlighting and tackling the obstacles and then going for it. A fair amount of the day was focusing on the problems but we had snatched visions of what we could do. Its a scary future but…

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Albert Einstein

My impression overall? I will go again to a “think-in”. But a small country can make a difference. It was not a 150 years ago when 90% of the industrial energy of the world came from Wales (steam coal). I have three young children and every now and then i think “what on earth am i subjecting their children to?” We have to do something. The hollow men are currently steering and this needs to change!

…this is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but a whimper. TS Eliot

Here endeth the sermon. But… there are some stellar examples out there of what can be achieved



Whats is my son’s energy future? I hope better than some on the council of despair were saying yesterday?

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How quickly does a hydro payback its carbon? There is a lot of steel and cement in there! NT Snowdon hydro reveals!

BXP60081We have been working with our partners at Bangor University under the auspices of the European funded project Hydro BPT  project. The University have recently undertaking one of the first detailed full Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) of a High Head Hydro. There has been much talk in the press in terms of embedded energy vs generated energy. How much does it take to produce, install and operate a renewable energy system vs how much useful energy does it generate? In this form of energy accounting. “whats the pay back” is the question in terms of carbon? Up until a few days ago I could not tell you. I knew we were ‘ok’ but in data and facts I could not tell you.

The Hydro BPT project itself is looking at the harnessing of useful energy from the water industry through utilising something called the Break Pressure Tank (BPT). Instead of dissipating this useful energy through a tank because of un-needed pressure they have been researching its harnessing into low-carbon electricity. the project itself is revealing quite a bit of opportunity and also testing some of the technology. The National Trust are on the advisory group for the project along with Dwr Cymru.

lots and lots of detail in what makes up a high head hydro

lots and lots of detail in what makes up a high head hydro

The above graph illustrates the major carbon aspects of  the Hafod y Llan high head hydro. If we want to further decarbonise a hydro we should focus on the left hand side of the graph. Interestingly as well as building  the normal investment financial budget for future hydros the LCA tools also allows us additionally to build a carbon budget. BUT what is the payback I hear you say? On the Hafod y Llan hydro it’s under 7 months which is not bad for something which will probably be there for up to a 100 years! For more information about Hydro BPT please follow the link http://hydro-bpt.eu/ We are now waiting for the LCA results on the Hafod y Porth hydro. There arw quite a few differences in terms of build methodology on the Hafod y Llan system especially in prefabricating many of the components…lets see?Here is a summary of the main aspects and their payback. Thanks to Dr John Gallagher for all the hard work

Here is a summary of the main aspects and their payback. (two option in terms of generation 2 Gwh pa vs 1.9 Gwh). Thanks to Dr John Gallagher for all the hard work


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