Our first large hydro turbine has been switched on at a Snowdonia farm and is now helping to fund our conservation work.
The hydro is expected to generate 1,900 MWhr per year, which is more electricity than is needed to light up all of the places we look after in Wales, including eight mansions, three castles and around 45 holiday cottages.
An exciting journey
Keith Jones, our environmental advisor for Wales, said that working on the Snowdon hydro project has brought many challenges, but it is just the beginning of an exciting journey for the Trust.
‘It’s taken 300 tonnes or a mile of pipe, six tonnes of turbine and generator kit and more than 100 people to make this project happen. Add in the southern face of Snowdon, snow, heavy rain, rock and 60,000 walkers passing the site per year and you can see why this has been a bit of a challenge.’ Keith said.
‘The end result? We’ve got a hidden hydro capturing half a tonne of water per second and generating a couple of million kilowatt hours of renewable energy each year – I’m quietly pleased!’
Conservation funded by renewables
The power produced by the Snowdon hydro will be sold through our new renewable energy trading company to our energy partner and green electricity supplier Good Energy. The project is expected to generate enough electricity to power around 445 homes.
Patrick Begg, our rural enterprises director said: ‘We’re lucky to be blessed with an abundance of natural resources that we look after for the benefit of the nation. Now with this new trading company we can harness some of the power generated by nature to help fund our conservation work.
‘However, the real prize for us as the UK’s largest conservation charity, is that we are helping to protect special places forever by creating sustainable energy solutions that work in complete harmony with our natural and historic heritage.’
Juliet Davenport OBE, founder and CEO of Good Energy, said: ‘This is a fantastic project and shows renewables and conservation working hand in hand. I’m sure our customers are going to be really pleased that some of our power will come from National Trust hydro sites, and maybe they’ll go to see them in action over the summer.’
An ambitious plan
We are looking for opportunities to install renewable technology where it is appropriate and in the right location and scale for the landscape. Already we have developed more than 250 small and medium-scale renewable energy schemes across England and Wales, including biomass, solar and hydro technology.
Last year, in conjunction with Good Energy, we also launched an ambitious plan to provide clean energy to 43 of our historic properties. It is hoped the scheme will help us to generate 50 per cent of our energy from renewable sources by 2020 and halve fossil fuel use in the same period.
Through our renewable energy plans and with energy conservation work, we hope to save an estimated £4million from our energy bill each year – which we can invest in conservation work at the places we look after.