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Lindisfarne Castle is fitted with solar panels

Other posts by  |  Sheelagh Caygill on Google+ |  March 22, 2012 | 0 Comments

Lindisfarne Castle’s solar panels © Geoff Fox Enlightened Solar

An iconic Northumberland heritage site cared for by the National Trust is set to go green thanks to solar power.

Lindisfarne Castle on Holy Island has had 48 photovoltaic solar panels fitted on the roof in order to generate electricity, the fortresses only source of power.

The panels, which are only visible to those with a birds eye view of the 16th Century Tudor Fort turned Edwardian holiday home for the founder of Country Life Magazine, are hoped to generate just under 10,000 KWh of electricity each year.

This could reduce the charity’s electricity bills by approximately 10%, saving 5.2 tonnes of CO2 annually, the equivalent of travelling almost 24,000 miles in an average car.

Simon Lee, Property Manager at Lindisfarne Castle, said: “The National Trust is committed to reducing its environmental footprint and the installation of Lindisfarne Castle’s solar panels is a huge step in the right direction. The installation design has taken into account the aesthetics and historical importance of the building by ensuring that there will be no weight or direct contact of the panels or frame on the roof itself.”

The 12-KW photo-voltaic system is mounted onto a custom designed lightweight frame and sits immediately above the East Bedroom in the castle. The panels have been skilfully linked to the castle’s main electrical distribution system by regional contractors Lister Electrical of York working with Enlightened Solar.

The layout of the castle’s roof area is very complex and posed many challenges to Solar UK Heritage, the specialist company used for the project, including shading issues caused by the sun’s movement over the course of the day. To combat this, each panel has been fitted with a Micro Enecsys inverter which switches off individual panels should they be in shadow.

Lindisfarne Castle is one of Northumberland’s most iconic landmarks

This is an unusual design but it has ensured the National Trust gains the most out of its investment. A monitor in the castle’s office will enable the property team to see how much energy is being generated at any one time.

Geoff Foxx from Solar UK Heritage, said: “This has been another interesting and challenging installation for our team. Using the design knowledge gained over 14 years, we were able to provide the National Trust with a bespoke solution, for a unique building. Utilising the very latest technology, coupled with an innovative engineering solution, we have been able to help Lindisfarne Castle go green.”

The project to install the panels, which has taken two-and-a-half years to come to fruition, cost a total of £45,000 and it is hoped that the project will payback within 16 years.

Simon continued: “As a charity with a vested interest in the environment and historic places we’re always looking for ways to reduce our costs and our carbon footprint without impacting on the historic and aesthetic setting of the places in our care. The installation of solar photovoltaic panels at Lindisfarne Castle is a great example of the successful use of new and green technologies on a heritage site.”

The National Trust is dedicated to reducing their energy consumption and aim to reduce their use of fossil fuel by 50% between 2010 and 2020, by using less energy and switching to renewable technologies where they can do so without damaging the integrity of the historic sites in their care.

Simon said other plans are in place to reduce the charity’s environmental impact: “The National Trust in Yorkshire and the North East has a number of projects at different stages that aim to reduce our impact on the environment. We’ve just replaced an oil boiler with biomass in the Edwardian Conservatory at Wallington and there are plans at Cragside to re-introduce hydroelectricity to the house.”

Lindisfarne Castle is one of the most popular castles in Northumberland, with many people choosing to visit Northumberland to see Northumberland coastal castles, and Lindisfarne in particular.

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