Chatsworth puts focus on art of sustainability

It is one of the nation’s most beloved stately homes, filled with priceless art works, ornate decorations and centuries of rich history.

But the splendour of Chatsworth House, built in an era long before carbon footprints were a going concern, has come with a hefty energy cost.

That was until now, as a new and revolutionary renewable energy generation system being installed at the Bakewell mansion is set to reduce its carbon emissions by a staggering 90 per cent.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The changes will be the environmental equivalent of taking 700 family cars off the road and will see Chatsworth House run at a level which is entirely environmentally sustainable.

Energy innovation goes back a long way at Chatsworth. In 1893, the 8th Duke of Devonshire commissioned water-powered electricity generation turbines to harness the gravity-fed water system that was in place to feed the famous fountains. This hydro-power system is still producing electricity.

Now new systems are being established which will utilise only the low-value timber felled as part of the estate’s normal annual harvesting operations.

Known as Arbor ElectroGen it will convert the wood fuel into electricity via a process known as Advanced Gasification. This produces a clean, combustible gas that is used to power a combined heat and power (CHP) system – containing an engine similar to that found in large commercial vehicles – which in turn will drive a generator to produce around 97 per cent of Chatsworth’s annual electrical requirements.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Nearly all of the heat created by the engine’s cooling system and exhaust will be recovered and used in a new district heating pipe network to supply the house, restaurant and garden glasshouses – providing some 72 per cent of the annual requirements for space heating and hot water.

Education will also play an important role in Chatsworth’s on-going commitment to sustainability as the new Renewable Energy Centre and its purpose-built building will become part of the visitor experience. Members of the public will be encouraged to see at first-hand how the estate is generating its own renewable energy and learn more about how it fits in with the drive to reduce the estate’s environmental impact.

Work has already begun on the new system, which is being designed and constructed by the Lincolnshire-based low-carbon energy specialist LowC Communities.

Nicholas Wood, land agent at Chatsworth, said: “There is normally a proportion of timber from our harvesting operations that is of poor quality and limited use – this will now be utilised on site as biomass. All felled areas are replanted, thus ensuring that our woodlands continue to be sustainable.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Annually, the new renewable energy centre will save around 1,350 tonnes of carbon dioxide being emitted – in comparison with grid-supplied energy produced by fossil fuels. To put this saving into context, it would equate to the annual emissions of around 700 family-sized cars.”

Richard Griffin, chief executive of LowC Communities commented: “We are truly delighted that Chatsworth will be taking a leading position in the fight against global warming.”

Related topics: