Renewable energy in Wales
Renewable energy projects across Wales are helping to tackle climate change and protect the treasured places we care for. From solar panels on castle roofs to the largest electricity-generating wheel in Europe, learn how projects in Wales are helping cut carbon emissions and saving money for conservation.
Our mission to combat climate change
The National Trust has a mission to be net zero by 2030. To achieve this, we are working to dramatically reduce our use of fossil fuels at properties and places across the UK. Our work so far has cut down on carbon emissions, made sites from castles to cottages more sustainable and saved money to plough back into conservation work.
Nationally, we aim to save an estimated £4 million on energy bills each year and every penny will go towards safeguarding our nation’s heritage.
Renewable energy in Wales
For centuries the mountains, woodlands and waters of Wales have nourished its inhabitants and inspired generations of visitors. Now we’re unlocking the landscape's clean energy possibilities. By harnessing the elemental resources of land, sea, and sky we’re powering the places we care for, while continuing to look after the environment.
Updating old technologies
Burning wood to produce warmth and building mill wheels to harness water power are practices as old as the hills in Wales. Today we’re updating these old technologies as well as introducing the use of new ones like solar power.
Types of renewable energy
We’re working alongside local people, government agencies and the scientific community, and in partnership with the Trust’s renewable power supplier Good Energy. These are some of the schemes we’re developing and supporting to deliver clean energy in Wales:
- Solar photovoltaics (PV): using the sun’s rays to generate electricity.
- Solar thermal: heating a cold liquid in a closed pipe loop.
- Heat pumps: harvesting ambient heat from earth, air, or water.
- Hydroelectricity: using the power of fast-flowing water to generate electricity.
- Biomass: burning plant material for fuel.
Renewable energy projects
Our nationally co-ordinated approach on the development of renewable energy in Wales, emphasises good practice and helping conservation. These are some of the exciting projects under way across the country to help combat climate change.
- Electric vehicle charging points
- We have 36 EV charge points across Wales, all perfectly placed for a great day out. You can plug in your electric vehicle and explore mighty castles, beautiful beaches and glorious gardens. All our electric vehicle charge points are slow charge and they may be occupied on arrival, so it’s best to allow plenty of time. Check with individual properties before your visit to confirm the charge points are in operation.Learn more about electric vehicle charging points
- Solar power at Bodnant garden
- A national award-winning installation has harnessed the power of the sun at Bodnant Garden. Designed by Carbon Zero, the 175 photo-voltaic panels laid out on the hillside generate enough electricity to power the Pavilion café, and two charging points for electric vehicles (plus gardeners’ battery power tools). It also generates power for an air source heat pump in the car park toilet block.
- Solar power at Chirk Castle
- At Chirk Castle, we've replaced the old electric and oil heating system with a low carbon equivalent. Today, the castle uses a biomass system supplemented by solar power. The solar panels had to be specially fitted onto the old roof, and they provide hot water to the visitor toilets.
- Heat pumps at Powis Castle
- A ground source heat pump generates 90 per cent of heat needed for the nursery while a solar PV system generates its electricity. This and other new measures mean energy use has been reduced by almost two thirds, and excess electricity can be sold to a green energy supplier. Powis' green gardening initiatives don't stop there. For many years, the team have been harvesting rainwater from the glasshouse (now nursery) roofs and storing it in tanks for later use. With over 32,500 litres of water storage available, rainwater is now the nursery's main source of irrigation water.
- Hydro power at Llyndy Isaf
- As well as being home to our farming scholarship, Llyndy Isaf has hosted an array of renewable energy projects in a bid to make the farm more sustainable. The hydro now supplies the farm buildings with electricity, which will also be used by the two new heat pumps. The project will generate approximately 37,000 kWh of electricity per annum and will save the emission of approximately 18 tonnes of CO2 per annum.
- Biomass heating at Penrhyn Castle
- At Penrhyn Castle we've invested £400,000 in the new biomass system which will heat around 100 rooms at the vast, Victorian gothic mansion. This will cut carbon emissions and save around £3,000 a year in heating bills, which will be invested back into conservation. Other measures to reduce emissions include the installation of half an acre of solar panels and 7000m2 of loft insulation.Learn more about the project
- Heat pump at Plas Newydd
- We’ve built Britain’s biggest marine source heat pump, to heat Plas Newydd on the North Wales coast. Sea water is pumped through pipes to and from a heat exchanger on the shore, and then up 30 metres of cliff face to the 300-year-old mansion’s boiler house. The 300kW heat pump was the first project in the pilot phase of our Renewable Energy Investment Programme and is expected to save around £40,000 a year.
- Hydroelectricity in Snowdonia
- A hydroelectric scheme has been sensitively crafted into the rugged heather-splashed Snowdonia landscape at Hafod y Llan farm. The power produced by the Snowdon hydro was sold through our new renewable energy trading company to our energy partner and green electricity supplier. Over eight years, the hydros in Snowdonia have produced 20 million kWh of energy, enough to power 5,300 homes for a year.Watch a film about the project
- Biomass heating at Dyffryn Gardens
- We've installed a state-of-the art biomass boiler, ground source heat pumps and solar panels at Dyffryn Gardens to reduce our carbon footprint. The boiler runs on wood pellets made from the waste product of wood manufacture from Mid Wales. This more reliable energy source means that we can heat our glasshouse more dependably and so we can buy and cultivate rarer and more exotic species of orchid.
- The waterwheel at Aberdulais
- Today’s waterwheel is a modern version of technology dating back to the 1500s. Built by students and apprentices of British Steel at Port Talbot, it’s the largest electricity-generating wheel in Europe, with a diameter of 8.2m. On an average day approximately 100-120kW of electricity is generated. There’s also a turbine with a generating capacity of 200kW and enough power for most of the neighbourhood.Learn more about the project
- Green holiday cottages in Wales
- You can now have a ‘greener holiday’ where the money you pay for a holiday cottage goes towards investment in renewable energy at the site. These funds will also help protect the local environment in some of the most scenic areas of Wales. Renewable measures include heat pumps with sophisticated controls that set the system to low-level heating when cottages are unoccupied.
We’re carefully managing meadows across Wales to help them to thrive. Find out more about our work and discover where you can see meadows in Wales.
Discover how our nature friendly farming practices are protecting rare habitats and species, preventing floods, and helping wildlife thrive in Wales.
Find out how we’re looking after 157 miles of Welsh coastline for future generations, from protecting wildlife habitat to adapting to the challenges of climate change.
Learn about conservation shepherding, restoring water vole habitat and how blanket bogs are playing a vital role in flood management at farms in Snowdonia.