Our response to climate change

Sticklebarn Tavern, Cumbria

Mike Hudson – our renewable energy programme director, talks about our Renewable Energy Investment Programme.

Fundamentally, it’s our response to climate change.

We’ve made a commitment to go from around zero to 50 percent renewable energy generation in a decade. This ambitious 2020 target will help us to get off oil, generate vital funds for our conservation work and importantly, also make us think more about the energy we’re using and inspire others to do the same.

Hitting the target

We’re achieving this by building more than 50 greener energy systems across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

It might not sound like too much of a task to other companies, but we’re making this new technology fit with draughty castles, pubs and listed mansion houses. They’re special places that need to be kept that way – so every project has its own unique set of challenges.

Highlights so far

Beautiful and significant Ash and Rowan trees, which have actually grown together stood next to where we planned to build a hydro turbine weir, near Sticklebarn pub in the Lake District.

We said, no matter what, these trees must be preserved.Throughout all the works that went on to build the hydro, they remained. When I look at that tree now it makes me feel proud; it’s the love and care that we put into each project that sets our work apart.

Main challenges

It’s an uncertain time for the industry with ongoing changes in government regulations. In the past there was a helpful level of support for all scales of renewable energy. Now there is a shift towards investing in larger installations.

This is disappointing for the UK’s greener energy future but it doesn’t mean that our work has to stop. If you’re not prepared to take some risks then nothing would get done. We just have to be flexible and take each project as it comes.

Top tips

My main advice for any project – not just renewables – is to build up a good team of people. If you take the time to get really good people on your side, it will pay massive dividends in the long term.

I’ve got a fantastic team and it’s because of them that we’ve won numerous awards for our renewable energy projects and programme.

If we can do it at the places we look after then anyone can, and we hope that through our leadership we can inspire others to switch to greener energy too.