Cutting our fossil fuel usage in half by 2020.

Inside the Biomass Boiler at Scotney Castle © Joe Lloyd

Inside the Biomass Boiler at Scotney Castle

Latest update 31.05.2013 15:39

We're pledging to reduce use of fossil fuels by 50 per cent within the next 10 years.  The move will aim to cut our carbon emissions from energy use for heat and electricity by 45 per cent – beating the Government’s target of a 34 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2020.

In addition to the benefits to the climate, the move could also help us dramatically reduce the amount we spend on fuel - we currently spend around £6 million each year on power and heating for our buildings.

Meeting the target
The target will be met by reducing energy use for electricity and heating by 20 per cent and introducing ‘grow your own’ micro and small scale energy schemes using wood fuel, solar, heat pumps, hydro and wind.

The initiative will involve our entire in-hand building stock, which includes 300 major historic houses, office buildings, visitor centres and 360 holiday cottages.

We also plan to install more than 50 new wood fuel boilers into our mansions and larger buildings over the next five years. The fuel will be sourced either from our own estates or from local suppliers, with replanting and maintenance benefiting woodland and wildlife habitats. All will be consistent with our high aesthetic and conservation standards.

We anticipate that most of the schemes will break-even within the next 10 years, even allowing for the huge variability in the price of energy and uncertainty over the future of grants and subsidies.  Our reduction in the use of mains electricity, gas, oil and LPG will be equivalent to removing 4,500 family cars from the road.

'World leaders may not have provided a political solution to the climate change problem at Copenhagen, but that should not delay us from delivering practical solutions on the ground,' said Fiona Reynolds, Director-General of the National Trust.

'The Trust has a responsibility to look after the special places in our care for ever, requiring us to make long term decisions that will protect them for future generations to enjoy.

It also makes good business sense. By cutting our energy consumption and growing our own energy, locally, from renewable sources we will have more money to spend on the places we look after, and a more sustainable and resilient operation. 

Growing our own will also give us greater energy security so that we’re not subject to fluctuating energy prices, or disadvantaged by any energy shortages or rationing.

Greater ambition and support for investment from the Government is key to realising the full potential of small to medium scale renewables. More needs to be done to help householders reduce their energy consumption and grow their own energy from renewable sources.'

'Grow your own' energy projects
As an organisation we already have more than 140 renewable energy systems in operation on sites across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, with an installed capacity of 2.3 MW heating and over 1 MW of electricity generation.

Twenty-seven of these initiatives have been installed with the help of our energy partner, npower, who have developed National Trust Green Energy Revenue from sales of this product helps fund our green energy initiatives, which includes helping two communities in Trust-owned villages cut carbon emissions and save money on energy bills.

Other ‘grow your own’ energy projects include solar panels on the roof of Grade I listed Dunster Castle in Somerset (funded by Barclays) and wood-pellet boilers at Sudbury Hall in Derbyshire (funded by the Trust’s energy partner npower), Scotney Castle in Kent (funded by the Big Lottery Fund Bio-Energy Capital Grants Scheme) and the wind turbine at Middlehouse Farm in Malham (funded by the Rural Development Programme).

We hope to contribute to the transition to more sustainable forms of energy generation by sharing experiences in growing your own energy with our 3.8 million members, 15 million visitors, local communities, policy makers and industry, and where possible, exporting electricity to other users. 

'Climate change is already having a major impact on our properties and is one of the reasons why we need to act now, both to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to change,' Fiona Reynolds continued.

'To avoid more severe damage to our cultural heritage, wildlife and countryside in the future, we need to move towards a better, more sustainable approach to energy use, based on energy conservation, localisation and greater use of renewable sources.

We have a special interest in helping rural communities find alternatives to coal and oil for heating. Like many rural households, many of our properties are located away from mains gas and in some instances mains electricity.  We want to help these communities escape ‘fuel poverty’, help them to contribute to a renewable energy grid and demonstrate the practical benefits of going ‘off oil’ for good.'

Jonathon Porritt, Founder Director of Forum for the Future and former Chair of the UK Sustainable Development Commission, has warmly welcomed this 50 per cent commitment:

'This is exactly the kind of ambition level we need to help us navigate our way towards a low-carbon society.

Download the energy report: 'Grow your own' (PDF / 1MB)