World exclusive – we can grow our own building materials. Ground breaking discovery!

the latest timber building to the fleet. the soon to be launched. NT Penrhyn Castle visitor centre. Grown, harvested and milled 4 miles away at the Faenol

The latest timber building to the fleet. The soon to be launched NT Penrhyn Castle visitor centre. Grown, harvested and milled four miles away at the Faenol

Imagine a carbon locking material that can be made only water, solar energy and some trace minerals. This material is both durable, strong, waterproof and above all looks great. This new damned fangled material is not favoured by many mainstream builders, architects and engineers.  It is often simply used for decoration, soften the look of steel, clad concrete and cover breeze block. At the end of its life this which can be many hundreds of years if looked after is neither hazardous, toxic or in fact take up valuable room in landfill. It can be re-used… and this miracle material? I supposed the images are a bit of a giveaway. Wood…

the Hafod y Llan tubine building. Oh and the Hafod y Porth Turbine building and the Gorsen Hydro turing building made from Larch from the Ysbyty Ifan Estate

the Hafod y Llan turbine building. Oh and the Hafod y Porth Turbine building and the Gorsen Hydro turing building made from Larch from the Ysbyty Ifan Estate

Ecological footprint, vernacular, healthy building, carbon footprint and the list goes on. The NT is not holier than though in terms of use of other materials for speed, performance, use or simply what we have always used to and so on. But I can say hand on heart we are getting better! There are still building regulation challenges, organising a project to include wood, design the structure challenges of timber. This miracle material needs a lot more support to become more mainstream. Imagine if scientists found this ‘wood’ martial today and launched it on the world with its performance CV. We’d think it was a miracle material. But why don’t we recognise this aspect today? There are beams of cedar of Lebanon still doing their original work inside the pyramids, elm drains under chester from roman times and so on. Wood is good in the C21

the faenol wardens base near bangor. made from timber which was harvested some 500m away (thats meters not miles). the roof is shingled in that useless wood. Leylandii (but is really good for cladding)

The Faenol wardens base near Bangor. made from timber which was harvested some 500m away (That’s meters not miles). the roof is shingled in that useless wood. Leylandii (but it’s really good for cladding)

Mills - Milling new campsite furniture from timber which was felled 2 miles away from Hafod y Llan

Mills – Milling new campsite furniture from timber which was felled 2 miles away from Hafod y Llan

...and the bits you dont build out of keeps you warm, biodiversity habitats, furniture and so on.

…and the bits you don’t build out of keeps you warm, biodiversity habitats, furniture and so on.

Posted in Biomass, Wales | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The heat is on. Multiple renewable heating systems being installed by the National Trust… today!

the old farm house in the back ground. the first of the 3 x 100m boreholes being finished

The old farm-house in the back ground. The first of the 3 x 100m boreholes being finished. The newer farm-house on the right has the Klover 120 wood pellet range cooker installed. Demonstration farm!

A quick visit to Hafod y Llan this morning to have a look at what’s happening on the heating front. It’s all go here and a few other properties

  • Clive is installing 2 new heavy mass wood pellet space heaters at Plas Newydd tea room and the new visitor centre at Penrhyn Castle
  • Hafod y Llan is busy installing a new Froling biomass boiler into the farm office. Emyr Hall the NT building surveyor is also installing a new  borehole 30kw Ground Source Heat Pump (GSHP) into the old farm-house which is undergoing a refurbishment as a new holiday cottage.
  • A mile down the road 2 new Stiebel Eltron air to water heat pumps are also being installed into the Llyndu farm-house and flat.
  • The heat-pumps mentioned above should be (cross fingers) supplied by two new Peco hydros in the coming year or so but as ever that’s another blog!
  • the soon to be converted C17 farm house which has been empty since the 60's

    The soon to be converted C17 farm-house which has been empty since the 60’s. Ps the chimney on the left is supposed to be that angle. We stopped it from falling into the house. The house will be Hydro and PV electric supplied, Ground source heat pump, drinking water from the mountain, heritage building and insulated to within an inch of its life. Oh and its has a path which goes  up Snowdon at the back of the house. Whats not to like?

    Drill-rih-Hafod-y-Llan-GSHP-stuck

    what do toy do when you have 90m of drill stuck in the ground. you very slowly jack it out of the ground

    What do you do when you have 90 meters of drill stuck in the ground. You very slowly jack it out of the ground

the new 15kw Froling biomass system being installed into the farm. Toasty!

The new 15kw Froling biomass system being installed into the farm. Toasty!

Posted in Biomass, Heat pump, PV, Wales | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Decisions, decisions… climate change, sea level rise, nuclear, heritage buildings, renewables, biodiversity, people… changing world

Grade 2* Felin Gafnan next to the old Wylfa Nuclear Power Station. About to be n very 'next' to the new Wylfa. Changing coast

Energy coast on N Anglesey. Tidal, Nuclear, heritage mill and few miles from quite a few wind turbines. Grade 2* Felin Gafnan next to the old Wylfa Nuclear Power Station. About to be very ‘next’ to the new Wylfa. Changing coast

 Yesterday was one of those ‘interesting’ days with John, Kathy, Andy and Bryn. North Anglesey and the area around and between the old Wylfa Nuclear Power station and the Cemlyn Bay tidal lagoon. The factors, decisions and impacts affecting this area are incredible.

  • Climate change and the current sea level rise moving or removing the tidal lagoon and all the associated flora and fauna. Loss of agricultural land, farm buildings and so on
  • The new £10b nuclear power station which will be built along the old one and abutting NT land. 11m tonnes of waste soil and rock, worlds tallest crane, carving out a new harbour and this list goes on
  • The impact on the grade 2* Felin Gafnan water-mill and its setting
  • Renewable energy from the tidal turbines planned nearby. Grid infrastructure, impact on the AONB
  • and  on an on. Jobs, water supply, access, coastal path, culture, opportunity

It was a bit mind-boggling but also a microcosm of the world in general (a very big microcosm). What was good about the day was seeing the deep thinking which is currently underway in the NT. One of the old definitions of conservation was ” the management of change” and this area on the N Anglesey coast is the premier league of change. Historic, active and man-made.

IMG_0407

This is why I had been invited. could we harness the small tidal power from the lagoon at Cemlyn. The answer is simple. No we could not. sea level rise changing the nature of the site, no grid,  heavy infrastructure for a small gain.

 

the challange we all face. to the left the Irish Sea. To the right farm land and farm houses. Cemlyn Lagoon area is undergoing change

the challenge we all face. ‘Change’! To the left the Irish Sea. To the right farm land and farm buildings. Cemlyn Lagoon area is undergoing change

Felin Gafnan Mill. stuning local. what do you do with this listed building which is right on the coast? (my feet were in salt water taking the picture

Felin Gafnan Mill. stunning location. What do you do with this listed building which is right on the coast? (my feet were in salt water taking the picture

and this little treasure behind the mill

and this little treasure is behind the mill

 

Posted in Wales | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

see….its not all sunshine and flip flops in the world of hydros

its amazing how long you can spend talking about drysone walls when you know you have a long walk ahead of you. If you look carefully you can see the 40mph snow coming in from the left. Still...it was better than the office!

its amazing how long you can spend talking about dry-stone walls when you know you have a long walk ahead of you. If you look carefully you can see the 40 mph snow coming in from the left. Still…it was better than being in the office! A potential biomass in a mansion looks so much simpler (and warmer) on a day like this! (Image – Sabine Nouvet )

We have plenty of images of sapphire blue skies and tranquil waters whilst out doing the job we do in this blog. Last week was a bit more like it. Snow laden lazy wind (too lazy to go around you and so it cuts straight through you) A team of us were high up in Nantgwynant looking at some of the potential sites. This was more of an induction for our new project manager Rob who starts in a month or so. The weather was playing ball and giving everyone the authentic experience! My eye balls were hurting by the time we got down!

We have two sites in the planning process at the moment. We should have them finalised to add to the Berthen Hydro in the next few weeks. the cold dry weather means the Snowdon hydro is on go slow for now (1.64Gwh so far and not reached 12 months of generation yet) we are currently planning the next 18 months of work and seeing how the hydro packages and biomass slot together in Wales (oh and a couple of mansion sized PV’s as well) Alex is working on something special and simple as a pilot on a holiday cottage. More from Alex later!

But...you do get good moments in bad days. This was the day after in Cwm Idwal when we went out looking for snow with the children! Summer is nice....but so is winter!

But…you do get good moments in bad weather. This was the day after in Cwm Idwal when we went out looking for snow with the children! Summer is nice….but so is winter!

...and the wether got even more authentic as the day went on. John (in the red) wanting two sugars in his tea!

…and the weather got even more authentic as the day went on. John I think (in the red) wanting two sugars in his tea! Emma and Mike in the background with Rob appreciating a nice day in the mountains (Image Sabine Nouvet)

Posted in Hydro, Wales | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Its good to talk – South West visits Croft castle

croftThings are moving on apace with our Renewable Energy Programme –

  • Plas Newydd Heat Pump system is doing its thing, and performing better than calculated.
  • Hafod Y Porth hydropower system is generating nicely thank you.
  • Stickle Ghyll hydropower is moving towards generation in the next few weeks.
  • Ickworth House biomass heating project moves into delivery phase shortly.

Our fifth pilot biomass project at Croft Castle, completed last summer, played host to property teams from the South West region of the Trust in order for them (and me) to gain a greater understanding of whats involved in delivering a biomass heating project, as well as whats involved in operating it following project completion and handover to the property.sharing experiences

Ed (project Manager) together with David (General Manager for Croft Castle) outlined the origins of the project, explaining the business case for progression and how the scheme was one part of the wider Renewables Programme with the aim of meeting our committment to generate 50% of our energy needs from renewables.

We then linked up with the Head Ranger to discuss woodfuel production and management, and to see for ourselves the size and scale required to feed the boiler.size and scale

It was good to put into context just what 80 tonnes of timber looks like (“is it a wheelbarrow full, or a pick up size?”), discussion on sustainable yield, staff capacity, opportunity costs, storage all followed with some good questions being raised on “what it will mean for me?”ta dah

 

 

From here we carried on to the large woodchip store area – Ed was very proud of this area – and again we could all see a great example of a fit for purpose chipping, storage and loading area which does not impact on the visitor enjoyment of the property.

 

A really valuable day, raising lots of questions and discussion. Many thanks to Ed and the property team for organising.

I have a feeling more visits will be following on from this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Biomass, Energy generation, midlands | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Secretary of state likes our heat pump! Ashden Award at the houses of Parliament yesterday

ashden-Ed-DaveyMr Southall and Mr Jones were back at the houses of Parliament (as you do) as guests of the Ashden Award yesterday. The Rt Hon Zac Goldsmith was sponsoring the event with Ashden to show case the work that some of the 170 winners of the  over the last 14 years have and are doing. (amazing stuff and it’s some big numbers. Ashden). Ed Davey the secretary of state for the environment had the key-note speech gave the National Trust a glowing report card on our energy efficiency work and we found yesterday evening is a big fan of water source heat pumps. So much so he cut his speech short to mention Plas Newydd’s marine source heat pump. The Founder of the Ashden Awards Sarah Butler-Sloss gave a personal account of her journey to initiate the awards and how the awards winners have to date helped over 45 million people round the world.

On a personal note Paul and I still take part in the Ashden network events. It’s like an ideas cauldron. The art of the possible is the key thread. So many people want to make a difference and don’t complain about the problems around us but are rolling their sleeves up and doing something about it!

Posted in uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Worlds end. Renewables in the steam age. Beam Engines and some deep thinking

Lonely, eery, inspiring and now posing another opportunity? The Lavant Tin Mine at the end of the world in Cornwall

Lonely, eery, inspiring and now posing another opportunity? The Levant Tin Mine at the end of the world in Cornwall

The second day of the South West visit was at the kind request of Emma Jones and Anthony Power to look at the options around the Levant Tin mine right at the end of Cornwall. (I keep forgetting how far the SW bit of Britain is…its far!) But the journey was worth it. What a place to be when a SW storm is blowing in off the Atlantic. We were perched high up the cliff with the cold cutting wind driving straight through us. The boom of atlantic rollers testing the huge granite cliffs and a forest of smoke stacks from bygone industry littering the coast. It was one of those “I will remember this for a long time” moments. Oh and the purpose of the visit? with a 180MWh oil bill to create the steam for the last ‘original’ steam driven Cornish beam engine pump to pay per annum this was both a challenge and an opportunity. David our colleague had pointed us in the options direction and I was there to look at an unusual one. A hydro! yes that right a high head coastal hydro. Anthony has been looking at the  large Victorian drainage system along the coast and also looked at the 1000ft shaft they have (150ft of which is not under the sea) and he wondered if there was an option to look at generating electricity? There could be, but his first job is to make sure there is enough constant water flow to then look at the options. We also looked at pre heating the water for steam using the sea water in the shaft using a heat pump or harvesting heat from the condensing pipe on the steam engine. plenty of options it’s now a mater of crunching some numbers. But what a place!

You must visit! Like grave stone along the coast. The smoke stacks for long gone tin mines

You must visit! Like industrial monuments along the coast. The smoke stacks from long gone tin mines

nothing beats cast iron. the last in-situe original cornish steam beam engine

Nothing beats cast iron. the last in-situe original Cornish steam beam engine

Posted in Hydro, South West | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment