The National Trust Museum Generates Its Own Income Via Solar Cells

The National Trust's carriage museum at Arlington Court in Swindon, England, is generating its own income following one of the U.K.'s largest installations of photo-voltaic (PV) cells on a historic building.

The 113 m2 installation near Barnstaple in Devon will generate up to 6.3 megawatt hours (mWh) of energy each year, saving the museum about 600 pounds Sterling from its electricity bill and generating income of around 2,270 pounds Sterling per year by feeding energy back into the grid.

The project has been funded by sales of National Trust Green Energy which is supplied by the charity's energy partner, npower, and raises money to support low and zero carbon energy savings projects at Trust properties.

So far 25 National Trust properties have benefited from the partnership with npower with solar panels, biomass boilers and ground source heat pumps helping generate energy and save money on fuel bills, as the Trust works towards its commitment to cut its overall energy demand by 20 per cent by 2020 and to switch to renewable energy.

The installation will also help protect the historic carriage collection in the carriage museum, which includes carriages used by royalty, with the cells helping to reduce the amount of ultraviolet light that enters the building.

Arlington Court property manager, Ana Chylak, explained: "The project involved replacing 86 panes of glass with laminates which incorporate 27 PV cells in each unit, spaced to allow 30 per cent light transmission.

"I'm really excited that these panels have now been installed.  We have worked hard across the property to reduce our energy consumption and it has already really made a difference to our bills.  With these panels we can make a small contribution to the power we use as well as protecting our amazing carriages."

The completion of the work comes at the same time as the Trust and npower announce the extension of their partnership for another two years.

npower spokesperson Matthew Cole, commented: "It's great that customers who choose National Trust Green Energy are getting to see these big investments in renewable energy technologies at their favourite Trust places. The new agreement means more customers can get green electricity and we'll be able to cut our carbon footprint in more Trust properties."

Erica Jobson, senior external affairs officer for the National Trust, said: "Climate change is already having a major impact on our properties and to avoid more severe damage we need to reduce our use of fossil fuels and increase our energy generation from renewable sources. By cutting our energy consumption and generating more of our heat and power from renewable sources we have more to spend on our properties, countryside and wildlife, and on giving our visitors a great experience."