£3.5 million investment in clean energy


Croft Castle estate - one of the five pilot places for the scheme © Ana Vaughan

Croft Castle estate - one of the five pilot places for the scheme


Latest update 21.05.2014 16:54

Last year we launched our Renewable Energy Investment Programme; an ambitious plan to provide clean energy to 43 of our historic properties in conjunction with green power supplier Good Energy.

We are investing an initial £3.5 million in five pilot projects, including hydro, biomass and heat pumps. If the pilot is successful, we expect to spend ten times that sum in a programme that will see us generate 50 per cent of our energy from renewable sources and halve our fossil fuel consumption by 2020.

This will enable us to reduce our energy costs by more than £4 million per annum, releasing more money for our conservation work.

Going green and cutting costs

Our rural enterprises director, Patrick Begg, said: 'Like householders everywhere we are facing rising energy bills. We spend more than £6 million each year heating and powering the places in our care.'

'By investing in renewable energy production we can reduce our energy bills and invest more in vital conservation work around the country. It will put renewable energy at the heart of conservation.'

'Through our work we can also show that renewable technologies can be made to work in some of the country’s most sensitive landscapes and historic environments.'

Supporters help

Our 4 million members will also be able to support the programme by signing up for renewable power with energy partner, Good Energy. The company will pay us £40 per year for each new customer signing up to its dual fuel tariff via the National Trust.

If 5 per cent of member households adopted the tariff it would raise £3.8 million for investment in a low carbon future and see 95,000 households powered by clean, green renewably sourced electricity.

Juliet Davenport, CEO of Good Energy, said: 'Britain is blessed with abundant sources of natural power and we hope people will be inspired when they see how National Trust properties can generate renewable power in harmony with the environment.'

'Together we hope to inspire people to switch to green electricity, reduce their energy usage and if possible generate their own renewable power at home.'

Good Energy is helping us develop our renewable strategy, using its expertise in generating power from natural sources and its experience of supporting more than 55,000 small and medium sized renewable energy generators in the UK.

Our energy usage

We spend nearly £6 million a year to heat and power our estate - 300 major historic houses, plus office buildings, visitor centres and 360 holiday cottages - and without action we forecast that rising oil and gas prices would take this to £7.5 million by 2020.

However, the renewables investment programme is expected to save the Trust around £4 million, thanks to lower fuel costs and schemes such as the Feed-in Tariff and Renewable Heat Incentive.

Our five pilot projects this year will trial a multi-site approach and prove business models:

  • Plas Newydd – 300kW marine source heat pump, providing 100% of property’s heat requirements
  • Croft Ctlase – 199kW biomass boiler, supplying 74% of property’s heating needs
  • Ickworth – 199kW biomass boiler, supplying 100% of estate’s heating needs
  • Hafod y Porth near Craflwyn – 99kW hydro-generation, which will be sold back to the grid
  • Stickle Ghyll – 99kW hydro-electric project providing 30% of property’s energy needs

If the trial phase is deemed successful, we will plan 38 further schemes tailored to individual properties and selected according to strict criteria.

Patrick Begg continued: 'Projects must offer strong financial returns, build energy independence and energy security, but also respect properties’ settings and historical significance, and improve conservation, wherever possible.

'A major focus of the programme will be to dramatically reduce the Trust’s reliance on oil from 20 per cent to 3 per cent. This not only protects it from volatile and rising prices, but also reduces the risk that oil spills will pollute water courses, gardens and buildings. Two of the trial properties, Plas Newydd and Ickworth, are the Trust’s largest users of fuel oil.'

Making a good start

We have been making steady progress pioneering the use of renewable technologies across the places we look after.

Over the last decade more than 250 small and medium scale renewable schemes have been installed across a wide range of technologies: wood (biomass), solar electricity and hot water, small-scale wind, hydro-electric, and heat pumps.

Following the development of these projects, there is now widespread recognition of the value and impact which well-built renewables initiatives can bring to local National Trust businesses.

This investment programme is part of a move to invest beyond small impact renewables towards larger-scale initiatives, which can make a greater contribution towards meeting local and national goals, as well as generating income for us.

More on our work with energy and the environment