Back to the future with hydro power at Llyndy Isaf

The recently completed hydro at Llyndy Isaf was installed as part our 2020 vision to generate 50% of the National Trusts' energy from renewable sources.

The National Trust's environmental adviser for Wales, Keith Jones, said it was now a case of going back to the future at Llyndy Isaf farm, with the reintroduction of a new generation of hydro-electricity to power it.

He says, “The site is one of the best examples of low intensity farming for nature conservation in this part of Wales and up until the 1960s, the farm had its own hydro-powered electric supply system.

The hydro now supplies the farm, farm house and scholar flat with electricity, which will also be used by the two new heat pumps.  The hydro at Llyndy Isaf demonstrates how this can be achieved with minimal ecological and environmental impact.

As part of the move to make Llyndy Isaf a sustainable low-impact farm, a considerable amount of work has been done to the farmhouse and its associated flat to improve energy efficiency.

Hydro Project Manager Rob Gwillim added: “Where possible, insulation has been improved and the source of heat has been changed from an inefficient oil-fired Rayburn to modern air-source heat pumps, which efficiently extract heat from the air and increase its temperature to a useful level.

“This shift from oil to electricity creates an incentive to self-generate electricity. This process was started by installing a photovoltaic (PV) array on a barn roof.

The project will generate approximately 37,000 kWh of electricity per annum - more than the house, flat and farm uses.

So not only will this result in reduced electricity bills, there will also be an income generated through the sale of electricity and government support through the feed-in tariff, which can be reinvested into the stunning landscape.

Furthermore this renewable generation will save the emission of approximately 18 tonnes of CO2 per annum. All these benefits will help to make Llyndy Isaf a more sustainable farm.

Rhys Thomas, the National Trust's Countryside Manager in Snowdonia added “Llyndy Isaf is a 614-acre upland farm in Nant Gwynant, at the heart of Snowdonia. It extends from the shores of the beautiful Llyn Dinas up to the summit of Moel y Dyniewyd and includes a mix of heath, bog and woodland habitats rich in wildlife.

The low-intensity farming system in Llyndy has allowed the woodland to expand well beyond its fences. We now have one of the best examples of woody heath in the whole of Wales. The additional income from the hydro will allow us to carry on with current practices well into the future.”