Stickle Ghyll hydro visit and some compressed air in Edinburgh…not what you think!

The pub with a hydro. Whats not to like about a low carbon pint! or coffee as we had! the hydro will be feeding the pub and our neighbours directly

The pub with a hydro. Whats not to like about a low-carbon pint… or coffee as we had! The hydro will be feeding the pub and our neighbours directly

Its been a couple of days away again. Monday it was Edinburgh and yesterday it was the Lake District. Paul is away in Norfolk assisting with another biomass project but more on that later from the man himself.

My colleague Mike Hudson had arranged a meeting in North with a company who have been developing a compressed air energy storage process. I was there for an initial discussion and evaluation… it was intriguing and also common sense but has not been done before. Early days but you never know. My second time in Scotland in so many weeks. It will be interesting to see where the YES / NO aspect is next week.

I was then down to see the Hafod y Porth hydro twin. Namely the Pub with a hydro in the Lakes otherwise know as Stickle Ghyll. The 99kw system is progressing well. The form-work was up and the concrete was going in for the intake weir and fore-bay tank. One advantage of these steep sites is that the pipe is short and you can walk it quickly or twice as I did with John Millen yesterday. Our colleagues from Northern Ireland were over in the Lakes and we had a chat about the potential in N Ireland. I was over in NI a few years ago and its a different financial support mechanism. No feed in tariff it was all Renewable Obligation Certificates but also some high cost environmental assessment payments… will have to do some more research. Overall Stickle Hydro is progressing well…the weather is with us. Good for building and bad for generation. But you cant have everything!

The second lap of the hydro site yesterday morning with John Millen the project manager. Long discussion both of the project but of also the potential in Northern Ireland. I feel another hydro prospecting visit happening

The second lap of the hydro site yesterday morning with John Millen the project manager and a team of NT General Managers from Northern Ireland . Long discussion both of the project but of also the potential in Northern Ireland. I feel another hydro prospecting visit happening. The intake weir going up really quickly in the background.

Low key interpretation on site. we have 200,000 visitors pass this site in a year.

Low key interpretation on site. We have 200,000 visitors pass this site in a year.

Comedy moment for me. The health and Safety signs have been recycled from the Wales hydros. Bilingual Welsh and English...You have to remember that quite a few centuries ago Welsh was the native language here about's!

Comedy moment for me. The health and Safety signs have been recycled from the Wales hydros. Bilingual Welsh and English…You have to remember that quite a few centuries ago Welsh was the native language here abouts. The team have thought of everything!

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A mystery at National Trust Wales Penrhyn Castle. Heating system head scratcher. Three meters is all we need!

Welcome to the office! I stepped out last night for a bit of a walk around my place of work...nice! But also to continue the hunt for the elusive heat distribution system which means that we can have a centralised heating system...this makes a biomass system possible!

Welcome to the office! I stepped out last evening for a bit of a walk around my place of work…nice! But also to continue the hunt for the elusive heat distribution system which means that we can have a centralised heating system…this could make a biomass system possible!

Its been a few months in the research and we have been hunting around the cellars, looking at drainage systems and under floor slabs. what have we been looking for? a way of distributing hot water around Penrhyn Castle that joins up the three boiler houses and three additional domestic heating systems. currently its oil which gets distributed. we want to avoid this! early research has shown that a heat pump is a no goer for the castle since it lacks in the radiator and pipe department. we are 3 meters short in terms of joining the current systems together. they used to be joined but now the joining bit has an air handling unit in it for heating the grand hall. Digging up the grand hall is a 100%, gold-plated, don’t go there certainty! But as ever there are options and this will be our next step. we need a dynamic heat model to figure out what sort of heat loss we are looking at to size a system (It’s a biggie in terms of work) and also need to finalise the pipe system as well as boiler house (the last bit is fairly straight forward) I was pinching myself last night as I walked around (metaphorically speaking…the pinching not the walking) that I get to work with these special places!

The grand hall and our 3 meter problem. see what i mean about the digging!

The grand hall and our 3 meter problem. See what i mean about the digging!

this and Dyffryn Garden are the last two major properties in Wales on oil. we are working to get both off oil!

Penrhyn Castle and Dyffryn Gardens are the last two major National Trust properties in Wales on oil. We are working to get both off oil!

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Community energy fortnight – proud to be a part of. Lots to learn and share

We have a busy few weeks ahead of us…but also so so an awful lot more organisations and communities. 13th to the 28th of September is the second year for the community energy fortnight. Last year I was reading a walk with quite a few communities who were interested in doing a hydro. this year we and our partners have quite a few more things on the go! If you interested in renewable energy from a personal, organisational or community aspect then follow the LINK. Working with DEG  we are presenting with quite a few other experienced community energy experts in what promises to be an intense, informative and rewarding community energy workshop day on Anglesey. The 13th of Sept will see our friends at Anafon Community Hydro, Abergwyngregyn go AberDabberDoo and launch their share offer for what is I think the largest community hydro south of the Scottish border. The National Trust all over England and Wales are also showing behind the scenes, highlighting what we have done in terms of approaches and technology.

 

lots to see learn and share!

http://ukcec.org/events/community-fortnight-2014

small-community-energy-fortnight

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Stunning places, clever kit, and a day with the auditor

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Another varied week in the life of an environmental advisor.
I am shortly stepping over Offa’s Dyke into the Welsh suburbs to assist the National Trust Renewable investment programme as heat specialist, and started the week at Upton House with the property team looking at renewable heating options. Now I know that most of you by now what a pipe follower I am, and that I like nothing more than wandering around boiler houses, but as you can see from the photograph Upton House is truly beautiful and well worth a visit.
Outcomes of the day – potential biomass system to replace the current oil heating; high heat heat pumps to provide heating and hot water to a holiday cottage; and a smaller scale biomass to supply key rep houses. A smorgasbord of opportunity and really enthusiastic staff.

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Later on the week saw me down at Aberdulais Tinworks and waterfall to help with the delivery and installation of the new automated trash rack cleaner for the hydropower refurbishment.
Working within historic sites provides unique access challenges, but nothing that could not be overcome by lots of men standing around discussing how best to unload and carry the component parts to the top of the site. Closely followed by brute force and ignorance ( I was ignorance).

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Friday provided a full day with the external ISO14001 auditor – Barbara from QMS.

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As you can see the best audits require much coffee as well as BLT sandwiches to keep us going.
This was a full audit of the Wales environmental management system, and will be followed up with property visits later in the month to look at processes in operation in the real world. So far though Barbara is still smiling so fingers crossed.
We are advertising for my backfill shortly to cover whilst I work with the REI programme team. If you are interested you can be sure the job offers a huge amount of variety, coffee and laughs. My favourite from this week being the trough which collects the leaves at the top of the trash rack – look closely and men amongst you will notice a certain resemblance to stainless steel urinal trough. What can I say but repeat Keith’s statement “nothing new under the sun”.

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USA, Canada, Australia, Jersey… sharing just got global. First of the fit for the future webinars.

one of those moments... it was morning, noon and night this afternoon for the audience i was sharing with! cool and weird!

One of those moments… it was morning, noon and night this afternoon for the audience I was sharing with via a webinar! cool and weird!

Today was an interesting day for me. I was working with the International National Trusts Organisation (INTO) and we had a go at sharing our energy  lessons from over here via a webinar. Chloe for the fit for the future network was looking in to see if we can use this more as a sharing medium for the network.  Paul was in the office mid ISO 14001 environmental audit (short straw!). There was the presentation bit by me which went on to the discussion from the four corners of the globe. The challenges in Australia with a government withdrawing all support moral and financial in renewables (one state was even taxing people for having renewables) From the USA they are seeing a bit of a gap between the historic building sector and the environmental sector. Overall I really enjoyed the short foray into international webinar…ing! More to come I’m sure

INTO website – http://internationaltrusts.org/

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Whats the turbine doing now?… and now? and now? Live data from Snowdon

sort of live from the mountain. updated every 10 mins. follow the link

Sort of live from the mountain. Our 640kw hydro is doing the business. Updated every 10 mins. Follow the link

As reported earlier the 640kwp Snowdon Hafod y Llan hydro is operating a very comprehensive monitoring system. We have now been able to open this up to the rest of the world. A very trick and also simple small piece of kit is taking a screen capture every 10 mins and sending it to the internet. So if one evening you don’t fancy counting sheep then have a look at what six tones of steel is doing on the mountain. If you’re a walker and facing seeing what the weather is doing then a simple trick is to see what the power output is like. The more the power then the more the rain. If the hydro is running at 640kw then go back to bed or bring your bathing costume! something even more clever coming soon in the world of sharing and renewables…watch this space!

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Making space for innovation in renewable energy. National Trust approach… and it seems to be work.

the brand new never seen before Hydrolite 99kw Turgo. cost effective, quick to install and durable

The brand new  as of yesterday turbine , never seen before Hydrolite 99kw Turgo. Cost effective, quick to install and durable

Its been an interesting exciting, frustrating and rewarding few years at the renewable energy ‘coal face’ in the National Trust.  The National Trust especially in Wales i feel has really been pushing at technology development. No great big leaps but creating a space and embedding trust with developers so that we can work on the ‘its not been done before but you know what might work here’ or the ‘we have been thinking about developing a…’ No government technology research grants for innovation but more of a safe evolution space for companies to work with us and dare say ‘take a calculated risk’. Looking back i suppose we kicked off with the development of the LED candle bulb. This was not a ‘pay a huge R&D lump to a company’ but more of a ‘develop what we want with us and we will buy it’ Which we have in the tens of thousands!

LED candle bulb with 48 Lux output (at 750mm)

Evolution and innovation. Grade 1 listed buildings playing their part. LED testing at Powis Castle

On the renewables front we do take part in more cutting edge aspects such as the Combine project which is looking to manufacture biomass briquettes from marginal crop such as highway cuttings or bracken management. This is more of a ‘slow burn’ development. Direct innovation and application to a live project is where we have had good wins. Lately they have been coming in thick and fast. The Marine Source heat pump is one of the best examples of this. One of the key ingredients has been working with SME companies who can react, generate ideas and are happy to work with us and change direction very quickly as we both learn. The Hafod y Porth Hydro near Snowdon is yet another example of this ‘safe place’ to develop. Hydros are bespoke…this is a mater of fact! but there are ways which we can use innovation to reduce costs, reduce risks and speed up the development. At Hafod y Porth working with our developers (GH Jones) we have just installed our first prefab intake weir. A weir is normally cast in-situ and is open to vagaries of the weather, environmental risk of fabrication out on the mountain and also cost. The turbine (TGV and Hydrolite) on this project is a more unitised system and also pared back in terms of technology…but is using tried and tested ‘stuff’ … not in this situation. We have gained on speed of manufacture and  install, cost reduction and also size of system (very similar to the marine source heat pump’). the overall result on Hafod y porth to date has been de-risking the build because of the weather, reducing costs and also increasing quality…win, win , win

The prefab weir working a treat. the components can be made in <1t parts which means they can be flown into site.

The Hafod y Porth prefab weir working a treat. The components can be made in sub  1 tonne parts which can be flown into site

and where next? watch this blog as there are quite a few ‘innovative’ irons in the fire. what is needed for this innovation to continue?

  • Certainty over Government support mechanisms such as FiT and RHi. Innovation can be quick but drops in support mechanisms can be quicker
  • Small, competent, professional, fleet-of-foot companies who can see possibilities
  • Open relationships with these companies. This ranges from partnership approaches in contracts (ie not wanting to trip each other up on one contract when they can see lots and lots more work ahead of them)
  • Focusing on outcome as much as process. Large organisations such as ourselves can be hamstrung with process and loose the purpose of the work. this really makes small companies nervous and normally ramps up the ‘just in case’ costs. Both parties start adding in additional costs just in case the other party in the contract does something unexpected or it goes all ‘legal’

COMMUNICATION IS KING!

Good communication, Good partnership = good projects

Good communication, Good partnership = good projects (Plas Newydd heat pump-room)

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