50% renewable podcast series

Lead ranger Duncan Norman gives presenter Lucie Green a tour of Cragside's hydro system

This five-part podcast series charts the fascinating history and progress of green energy at the places we care for.

From bringing sustainable power to a remote 19th-century mill, resurrecting historic hydro systems, and drawing energy from the ground beneath our feet, we've got some incredible stories to tell about renewable energy.

Find out how we're harnessing the power of nature and technology to achieve our goal of producing 50 per cent of the energy we use from renewable sources by 2021.

The podcast was made possible thanks to the support of BMW i, the brand behind the all-electric BMW i3. Our partnership with BMW i allowed us to expand our network of electric vehicle charging points and by investing in groundbreaking projects at National Trust places, the partnership brought us closer to our renewable energy ambitions. 

50% renewable is the National Trust's podcast series on sustainability

In this series presenter Lucie Green, a professor of physics at University College London, puts the all-electric BMW i3, through its paces on a 750-mile trip around the UK. On her travels, she discovers how renewable energy sources, like many of those championed by National Trust places, can reduce CO2 emissions that contribute to climate change.

Listen to the '50% renewable' trailer

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Episode 1
Cragside became Britain's first hydro-powered home in 1878

Britain's first smart home 

This episode explores the exciting capabilities of hydropower, an age-old technology that first used water to power mills and machinery hundreds of years ago. We shed light on how forward-thinking inventor Lord William Armstrong made his Northumberland-home Cragside into Britain's first hydro-powered home in 1878. Discover how an upgrade of the original hydro system is powering the estate into the future.

Episode 1: Britain's first smart home

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Episode 2
A colourful border of late summer flowers in bloom at Bodnant Garden

The electric garden 

Almost all energy production methods can be traced back to the sun's rays. This episode explores how solar panels are helping Bodnant Garden near Colwyn Bay in Wales create a sustainable future. Discover how we'll be using solar energy to power the cafe and visitor centre without impinging on the beauty of the site, which is set against the mountains of Snowdonia.

Episode 2: Electric garden

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Episode 3
 The Eliot Bible, John Eliot (1604–1690)

Lake-powered books 

In this episode, Lucie Green's adventure starts with the sound of rushing water at the Blicking Estate in Norfolk. She's listening to the workings of a re-purposed Victorian hydro-sewage system, which now pumps rainwater around the irrigation systems that feed the plants and flowers in the gardens. You'll also discover how the team at Blickling captures energy from the lake to create the conditions necessary to preserve one of the nation's oldest books, the Elliot bible (1604–1690).

Episode 3: Lake-powered books

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Episode 4
Felbrigg Lake

Woods that keep us warm 

Learn how we use biomass boilers and wood chip from sustainable woodland to keep warm. In this episode, we visit Sheringham Park and Felbrigg to find out how they harvest hundreds of tonnes of timber every year to heat workshops, offices, visitor centre, toilets, and even a holiday cottage.

Episode 4: Biomass

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Episode 5
Gibson Mill in Hardcastle Crags in run entirely of the grid

Going off grid 

Gibson Mill, which is at the heart of Hardcastle Crags, was one of the UK’s first mills to power the Industrial Revolution. Fast forward 200 years and it now stands as the first renewable place in our care that’s run completely off the grid. This episode reveals that this journey has been far from easy. Power shortages affect the availability of food and drinks and the worm toilets took some getting used to. Despite these challenges Gibson Mill has won several sustainability awards and inspired many other National Trust places on their journey to a low-carbon future.

50% renewable: Going off grid

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Our work with BMW i

Like us, BMW i is committed to creating a more sustainable future, and makes use of many of the renewable energy technologies we're discussing in this series.

The BMW i3 and BMW i8 are built from the ground up, in a factory powered entirely by wind. This partnership also means we can invest even more in renewable energy projects, and make travel to the places we care for more sustainable by expanding our network of electric vehicle charging points.

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Listen to our podcasts 

Did you know that we produce podcasts? You can download episodes for free on a variety of subjects, from the stories behind our gardens, collections and outdoor places, to the houses that helped shape and influence the work of great writers.