…and the next hydro please. National Trust latest undertaking. Small and equally as powerful.

Photomontage of the proposed hydro intake. this is again in the confer woodland

Photomontage of the proposed Berthen hydro intake. This is again in the confer woodland

Last Tuesday and after 18 months of work we received planning permission for our latest 100kw hydro. The Berthen stream in Snowdonia near the small town of Bethesda should be generating 420Mwh per annum by the end of next year. Whats unusual about this hydro is the existence of a dense conifer block of woodland along the entire pipe route The woodland itself the NT are working on a long-term reversion to broad leaf. We are will be surface mounted hydro pipe through the dense plantation. The high head (208m of drop) means that the pipe will be quite a bit smaller than recent Hafod y Porth 100kw hydro (in terms of energy output for example if you double the drop or head (you increase the pressure) it will produce the same amount of energy as if you doubled the amount of water) what in essence this means is that for a much smaller amount of water we can generate the same amount of energy as the Hafod y Porth hydro because of this increased ‘head’. Dewi the area ranger is also looking into the possibility of using some of the larch on the plantation site to be used for constructing the very small turbine building. This project will mean good news for the Carneddau property. the additional long-term resources provided by this hydro will enable a lot more long terms conservation and access work to be developed As ever watch this space!

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The Charterhouse: A 16th Century Gem at the Cutting Edge of Energy Efficiency

Fit for the Future Network members recently headed to the Charterhouse for a tour of their retrofit and energy efficiency work. Forum for the Future masters scholar, Emmanuelle Hopkinson, reports back.

Last week a group of Fit for the Future members, including practitioners from the Royal Palaces, The Church of England and The Wallace Collection, filed into the 16th century Charterhouse in London for an energy efficiency and retrofit tour.

Master, Charlie Hobson and conservation officer Mike Jackson led the tours, showing us the ins and outs of an ambitious heating and lighting installation project, whilst sharing the challenges of carrying out maintenance works in a Grade I listed building. With the lights left on to welcome visitors and the old heating system constantly pumping hot water throughout the building, the Charterhouse team were keen to reduce their energy bills in order to dedicate more funds to their main cause of accommodating and caring for 40 elderly brothers.


The main aspects to the retrofit project include:

  • Installing a new heating system which enables automated heating only in locations it is required, like the kitchen, and is designed to work with the natural efficiencies of the building too, for example its capacity to retain heat with its 4ft thick walls and remain cool in summer months
  • Lowering the ceiling in areas of the building to allow for new piping for the heating system and ensuring this infrastructure merges with existing features, like the windows
  • LEDs installed in various fittings including chandeliers throughout the building.

This major infrastructure work not only successfully satisfied English Heritage and Islington Council in planning, even if a sample of a section of roof had to be built, but during implementation the 40 brothers in residence remained comfortable and undisturbed, as the contractors were expected to work around them and also provide some friendly conversation!


Charlie noted that as LEDs generate less heat, they are an ideal solution for the Charterhouse in order to preserve their beautiful paintings and tapestries from any damage…Although a couple of members on the tour were quite convinced they could refer a more advanced solution with more suitable colour rendering.

Among other exiting future plans, for example solar PV on the Charterhouse’s roofs, Charlie and Mike expressed their aspiration to create a longer-term maintenance strategy, with energy efficiency at the heart of it, with the help of Fit for the Future Network and its members.

The new, lowered cieling was masterfully blended into the extisting infrastructure.

It was a fascinating tour which demonstrated the amount of innovative energy work that’s possible on a traditional property and some important lessons were shared with the group: perhaps the most important of all is that a project like this needs people who know the building very well, that’s where the real efficiencies come from.


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Its all getting very, very real with the Anafon Community Hydro

It’s all getting very very real for the Ananfon Community Hydro. Canyon Pelton Turbine has now been ordered. 

Last night I attended the latest Anafon community hydro project team meeting. It’s now moved from share issues and on to CDM, Risk registers, project delivery plans and deposits on all sorts of stuff. The hydro to date has sold over £330,000 shares and the enquiries keep coming in (the target was £300k) the more shares that are sold the less loan that will needed to be taken out. The £1.4m hydro is inching closer and closer to cutting the turf in March. A deposit was paid yesterday on a brand new 270kw Canyon turbine. This turbine is now being built! The Canyon turbine was selected for a myriad of reasons. Quality, cost but also delivery time. The usual suspects have very long delivery times and the community want to be generating by the end of summer next year.

Oh and what about insurance. That is a whole another world of blogging. Public Liability, goods in transit, storage, project insurance, operating insurance and on and on. (Thanks Gill Hall for the guidance… invaluable).

The quarter of a million pound grid connection, the 2km of pipe line, the storage compound for all this stuff… control systems, access routes… and on and on. It’s all very exciting but also a lot of work for the volunteers on the project. much more on this as it gets to the build

this is what is all about. Community and sustainability. Aber dabber doo event to launch the shares

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Greening your Hostel (Pen y Pass). YHA continue with the Eco Hostels development. Coffee, Biomass, Views and Good Company…perfect

A warm welcome. A sustainable warn welcome!

A warm welcome. A sustainable warm welcome!

As a fellow Fit for the Future member the YHA strives like we all do be that little bit better in terms of sustainability. I was invited for a chat and ‘look see’ of their latest refurbished hostel. Andy Rimmer from YHA was my host and guide. I share the same valley as the Pen y Pass Youth Hostel and have passed it thousands of times on the way over Llanberis pass  to Nantgwynant. From lighting to heating, water and waste the hostel has had a full services overhaul. Being right on the top of the pass (1000ft) means it gets a tad chilly there. The new roof insulation combined with a zoned wood pellet boiler has really transformed the building. But then we get to the “grand designs” part. Cafe, Bar and swish bedrooms. Each bed with somewhere to charge the mobile (sign of the times). LED and CFL through out. Perfect? Tackle the windows and a draft lobby and yes it would be. Overall – as a coffee and biomass addict I have now just added a new stop onto my Keith’s Cafs list.

YHA Green Spirit Plan

60kw, 7 tonne hopper, 3000 litre Buffer vessel and a nice trend zoned building control system...nice!

60 kw, 7 tonne hopper, 3000 litre buffer vessel and a nice trend zoned building control system…nice!

One of my daily mile-stones on the way to an from home. Pen y Pass YHA

One of my daily milestones on the way to and from home. Pen y Pass YHA

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They love what we do – NT wins Anglian Water Business Award

Turning the tide - Helen Dangerfield (head of Conservation) and Miranda Campbell (Environmental Practices Adviser) receive the award from Andy Brown, Head of Sustainability at Anglian Water

Helen Dangerfield (Head of Conservation) and Miranda Campbell (Environmental Practices Adviser) receive the award from Andy Brown, Head of Sustainability at Anglian Water (photo courtesy of Anglian Water Business)

So here we are all glammed up, thrilled to be receiving the from Anglian Water Business at a very enjoyable glitzy gala evening.

Fantastic. But of course behind all the razzle dazzle, there is a story which started with a number of people trudging around a 1,800 acre NT property (Ickworth, Suffolk) in the cold and wet looking for long forgotten, sometimes buried in soil or flooded, meters.

Brian Catton, Maintenance Operative at Ickworth, now reads the water meters each month

Brian Catton, Maintenance Operative at Ickworth, now reads the water meters each month

A daring tale of modern-day archeologists working from ancient maps tracking down over 3 miles of water supply pipework made out of – count ‘em (we did) – four different materials, some of which is over 50 years old.

It’s a narrative of analysing spreadsheets of data showing water consumption recorded every 15 minutes by the Anglian Water logger attached to our main incoming meter. Sheep, horses, cricketers, tenants and 200,000 visitors all consume our water. But at times, over half of all the water coming onto our site was leaking out, thanks to an ageing network and shrinking/heaving clay soils. We started narrowing down the leaks and spent over £10,000 replacing and re-routing over a mile of a water main which ran under a woodland and ploughed field, costing us £5,700 each year in leaking water. Now the average leakage is down to around 13%, so are we turning the tide? We’d like to achieve even less loss, but quite often when you fix one leak, another pops out somewhere else. So in the new year will be installing smart meters on the main branches of the network which should up our leak-spotting game.

Average water consumption at Ickworth; we've had our ups and downs but it's heading in the right direction

Average water consumption at Ickworth; we’ve had our ups and downs but it’s heading in the right direction (extract from Watersmart logger data – AWB)

We are also trying to reduce our consumption of mains water, restoring the 50,000 litre Edwardian rainwater harvesting system, previously used to launder Lord Bristol’s shirts, so they weren’t uncomfortably stiff in our very hard water area. This is of course perfect for watering plants, which prefer a more acidic pH. Water harvesting was incorporated into the design of the new Plant Centre and WC block, as well as external fittings that are freeze-resistant, low use taps to the hand wash basins, twin flush WC cisterns & waterless urinals.

Ickworth House's restored Edwardian rainwater harvesting system

Ickworth House’s restored Edwardian rainwater harvesting system

We’ve not just looked at Ickworth, Anglian Water Business kindly conducted 9 water audits at other properties in the East. Watch this space for posts about our water saving work at some of these other properties, including what the Victorians did for us at Blickling Hall and how to keep a moat topped up at Oxburgh Hall.

Just time for one more celebratory shot before it’s back to the spreadsheets…

Bob Wilson, MD of AWB, ourselves and Neil King, our AWB Account Manager

Bob Wilson, MD of Anglian Water Business, ourselves, and the very helpful National Account Manager at AWB, Neil King (photo: Anglian Water Business)

2 Turning the tide (winner)

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National Trust Hydro work receives global recognition… awards to be held in Lima Peru during UN COP20

Dave modeling our latest weir. This small weir will play its part in generating more energy than one of our mansions uses on average in a year.

Out of the blue last week we received an invitation to an award ceremony in Lima, Peru. The city is hosting the UN Climate Change Convention COP20. We were all perplexed as to how we had won an  international award. Kirsty, Chloe and I all denied applying. A few e-mails later with the organisers and we had been put forward by readers of our blogs and various communications for this award. The 10 international judges then deemed that we ‘little old’ National Trust were worthy winners of the water and hydro category. We had shown support, backing and drive in the micro hydro market. As you can see from the list below we are amongst some pretty big hitters. I would have loved to see Peru but traveling half way round the world for a day is a bit…

Thanks to the organisers for this affirmation and backing of the National Trusts renewables work. People do take notice!  http://www.rtcc.org/awards#awards

Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 20.19.40Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 20.57.46

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Its been a week of sharing…and sharing… oh and sharing

Must be the time of year. Ti’s the season to be sharing. The last week has been a bit frenetic in terms of sharing and doing the day job of doing ‘stuff’. Large scale PV, couple of biomass developments, some smaller PV’s, water and so on. But also from the middle of last week its been full on meeting people.

  • Tuesday and Wednesday it was Cardiff with my colleagues for a two-day catchup on whats on the go and planning the plan for various work streams
  • Thursday it was the Welsh Assembly Senedd building
    Hywel from the Abergwyngregyn Community team presenting at the Welsh Assembly building. Community renewables are doable but be ready for a slog

    Hywel from the Abergwyngregyn Community team presenting at the Welsh Assembly building. Community renewables are doable but be ready for a slog. The National Trust have been supporting this project for over three years. we can now all see the finish line!

    with the volunteer team from Abergwyngregyn who have been driving the Anafon Community hydro. I was with Justin Albert and Emily Keenan from the NT Wales and a few good friends from Community energy. We had organised an event with the Aber team to show what was possible in renewables. The NT have been supporting the Community on this project for over 3 years.

  • Thursday Evening and it was Criccieth for an after dinner speech on the future of energy
  • Friday it was another evening presentation on our renewables work
  • The Whole of Saturday was taken up again in Cardiff by the Welsh School of Architecture. We present a sustainability module day with the masters students and take them over to Dyffryn Garden for a bit of a ‘head scratcher’ session
  • Yesterday was a Dyffryn day detailing the biomass system but then into Cardiff again to present our work on pre 1919 building to a large group of South Wales Architects as part of the BEST program.
  • It’s good to share and learn from others. Now back to doing stuff!

‘…oh and a session on BBC this Saturday morning.

oh...the most important part of the week. My daughter Alis switching the village Christmas lights on!

oh again…the most important part of the week. Thursday my daughter Alis switching the Deiniolen village Christmas lights on! Sharing with around 300 people!


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