The National Trust has announced that they are to invest £30 million in 40 clean energy projects.

The investment from the National Trust reflects its target to reduce its dependency on fossil fuels – where it aims to generate 50% of all the energy it uses from renewables sources and reduce its consumption by 20% by 2020. The charity also expects the programme to save £4 million a year in energy costs.

A wide range of technologies have been announced for the Trust to meets its 2020 target, including a hydropower scheme, a water source heat pump (WSHP), solar panels and woodchip boilers.

The charity’s growing hydropower portfolio is seen as a crucial revenue stream to the National Trust, as the revenues from exported power are to be used to help support conservation work.

The WSHP, to be situated at Blickling Estate in Norfolk, is the most innovative of the proposed technologies. WSHPs operate by extracting heat from a body of water and placing this heat into a structure such as a building. The basic principle is very similar to that of a fridge, where instead of extracting heat for the purpose of cooling, heat is extracted for the purpose of heating.

WSHPs consume electricity to operate, which means they are not completely renewable, however, for every 1kW consumed they typically provide 3.5kW of heat, which shows they could have a large role to play in an electricity system that is provided for by 100% renewables.

Prior to today’s announcement, the Trust had invested in 5 pilot projects in 2013 at a cost of £3.5 million. One of these projects was to replace the old 5000 litre oil tank at Ickworth House in Surrey with a new 200kW biomass boiler, and was opened earlier today by Amber Rudd, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change. One advantage for the House is that the boiler is able to take advantage of locally sourced biomass from the House’s 8,000 acres of parkland.

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