Blenheim Palace ramps up its green portfolio

Waterfall on the river Glyme where the Archimedes Screw will be installed. Photo credit: Hallidays Hydropower. 
By Anders Lorenzen

Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, UK which was designated as an UNESCO world heritage site in 1987, is ramping up its green credentials by deploying a state-of-the-art micro hydropower scheme on the River Glyme, with construction starting this autumn.

The installation will cost £180,000 and will provide 60,000 kWh of clean energy; enough to power 18 homes, and via the government’s Feed-in Tariff scheme (FIT), will deliver a return of investments of around 8-10% during a 20 year period.

One of many
But this is just the latest move in Blenheim Palace’s green investments. Since 2008 they have reduced electricity and gas usage by 43% and 35% respectively, have installed 40 ground and air sourced heat pumps across their building stock, and can also boast of  20.4 kWp of solar photovoltaic installments that span across 14 buildings. They also recycle 81% of their waste and have a sustainability policy, meaning that mean they source products locally when possible. Blenheim Palace participates in the Green Tourism Business Scheme where it currently holds a Silver award and is striving to reach the Gold standard.

An Archimedean Hydro Screw, similar to the one that will be installed at Blenheim Palace.  Photo credit: Hallidays Hydropower.

Hydro ambition
The project which will be constructed by UK renewable energy company, Hallidays Hydropower, uses an Archimedean Hydro Screw design and is expected to have a lifespan of more than 40 years.

Commenting on the plans, Property Director at Blenheim Palace, Roger File said:

“Micro hydro is set to play a starring role in our drive for energy independence, efficiency and environmental performance. By the end of 2013 we will be generating 82,000 kWh of clean power each year.’’

And Roger is already preparing the following investments saying that next up is the installation of two biomass boilers and he hopes to unveil a second hydropower project with Hallidays; “It makes sense environmentally and and financially to invest in renewables’’ , he said.

Henry Reily-Collins, Chief Engineer at Hallidays Hydropower, laid out his excitement for the project and UK micro hydropower projects saying:

“This exciting partnership is another ringing endorsement of Britain’s booming micro hydro industry and our specific vision for the future. The generating potential of Britain’s rivers is immense, the Environment Agency has identified several thousand potential hydro sites that will both improve the local environment and generate electricity.”

Fish friendly technology
The Archimedean Hydro Screw, has been labelled as a ‘fish friendly’ technology and was selected for its low impact on the river system and also its efficient energy production. A side stream will also be developed as part of the scheme to improve fish spawning grounds and enhance the Bladon Dam ecosystem. Based on Archimedes’ ancient screw pump design, the 10m x 1.5m screw is turned as water flows through it, activating the turbine and harnessing up to 87% of the energy from the falling water. The technology enables rivers with a fall of water of two metres or more in height, to generate significant power.

With the controversial method of fracking having dominated UK’s energy debate in recent weeks, Henry Reily-Collins will be hoping for another energy boom, that is also largely untapped but could play a serious role in keeping the lights on.

Sub edited by Charlotte Paton

Related news:
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Bristol named European Green Capital for 2015
How to talk renewables so farmers and landowners listen

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