Renewable Energy is Rising in the East

Dee Nunn, one of National Trust’s REI Programme Project Manager’s, explains the steps being taken in East England to go green.

Sutton Hoo solar panels

Sutton Hoo solar panels

It feels like a lot longer than five months since I joined the Renewable Energy Investment Programme team at the National Trust and we are setting our sights high in the East of England Region.  The first batch of home grown wood fuel was chipped into our new chip store at the Ickworth Estate this month and the installation of our Lake Source Heat pump at Blickling is well underway thanks to Project Manager Steph Hall.

I’ve been lucky enough to start my first NT project at one of the UK’s most important archaeological sites – the beautiful Sutton Hoo Estate – home to the ship burial of an Anglo-Saxon king and his treasure!

With a range of buildings spread across the site, rather than one centralised system, we plan on making use of a smorgasbord of technologies at Sutton Hoo.  This includes using biomass to heat older, leakier buildings as well as heat pumps in combination with solar panels to heat and power the modern visitor centre buildings.

With the Feed in Tariff consultation out for comment suggesting cuts of as much as 87% to the support for 10-50kW capacity solar installations last year, we have been working against the clock to get phase one of the project complete.  With fantastic support from the property and regional team our solar array started generating just in time to register for the Feed in Tariff before the reductions kicked in in January.

The 49kW of solar panels were kindly delivered and installed by Panasonic as part of a corporate partnership arrangement with the National Trust, enabling the site to save even more on its energy bills and spend it instead on conservation. Even in the heart of winter the panels have already generated over 1000 kWh – enough to supply an average UK home for 3 months – or to make 25,000 cups of tea.  Much of this probably was used to make cups of tea as Sutton Hoo re-opened its doors during the week at half term!

The rest of the renewable energy project at Sutton Hoo is due to take place later this year and we are already looking at which other estates in the region could make use of renewable sources to reduce their carbon footprint and get them off oil.

It’s a privilege to be working in the beautiful places the Trust looks after, and a real challenge to find renewable energy solutions which work with historic buildings in heavily protected settings. I hope that showing our visitors that renewable technology can work in our places will inspire them to look at what they can do in their homes and businesses to reduce fossil fuel use.

Its been an exciting few months and I look forward to bringing you more updates later in the year.

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