Devonshire Family Heirlooms Used to Fund Renewable Energy Future for Chatsworth

Chatsworth is set to take a major step forward in securing a sustainable energy future with the opening of its Renewable Energy Centre on Thursday 5 December.

Funded by the 'attic sale' of items surplus to the core of its collection in 2010, more than £2.5m has been used to build the Centre, which is situated in the garden

The Chatsworth Renewable Energy Centre houses a low carbon, combined heat and power gasification system which will feed 97% of the electricity and 72% of the heating to the 300-room house, garden, shops and restaurants.

The Duke of Devonshire said: "By using funds raised from the attic sale the past is playing its part in providing Chatsworth with a sustainable future - helping reduce our carbon footprint and supporting the on-going maintenance of our woodlands and ecosystem."

The Chatsworth Renewable Energy Centre is fuelled using local timber felled as part of the estate's normal annual forestry management operations, which is then air-dried, and chipped. The system then converts the woodchip into a clean, combustible gas and drives a generator to produce electricity and heat. Due to the high temperature of the process there are no air quality issues and there is no visible smoke plume.

All the timber is sourced from the Chatsworth woodlands, from the estate's sustainable thinning and felling operations. When the trees have been felled they are stacked in the wood and left to dry for 9-12 months before being  turned into woodchip. Previously, first thinnings and some second thinnings would have been left to rot down with the better material often sold to the bulk chip market as low value logs.

Visitors will be able to visit Chatsworth's Renewable Energy Centre from December 2013. There will be an audio visual presentation explaining the process from start to finish, with live feeds from the system showing how much heat and power has been generated and the carbon savings involved. There will also be interactive exhibits and interpretation for children and families to demonstrate how renewable energy can be produced from the sun, wind and water.

The CHP system in the Chatsworth Renewable Energy Centre will supply the house, stables and a number of greenhouses in the garden with electricity and heat. The CHP system will produce 1.8 million kWh of electricity, supplying 97% of its annual needs.

The new CHP system will produce 2.3 million kWh of heat, 72% of the annual needs of Chatsworth House, the Stables and a number of greenhouses in the garden.

Carbon savings
The new CHP system will produce annual carbon savings of approximately 1,327 tonnes.

The National Grid
From calculations provided, the expected electricity export will be up to 450,000kWh per year. The annual electrical consumption of a typical family home is around 3,300kWh per year (Source: fgem)

Jim Dixon, Chief Executive of the Peak District National Park Authority, said: "It is hugely encouraging that one of the national park's most important historic sites is at the forefront of tackling the modern challenge of climate change. We hope that large organisations such as Chatsworth and ourselves can act as beacons of renewable energy in the national park, and inspire others to follow."

About Alfreton Grange School Environmental Action Group
The group was initially formed following an sequence of lessons on environmental chemistry. The students were given the task  to make a short film, documentary, advert to highlight the problems of climate change and what as a society we can do about it.  The ideas were developed and then the concept of sustainability was addressed. The group had previously had a recycling roadshow presentation and were instrumental in organising environmental events in school. They have recently been looking at the impact of our carbon foot print and how this is affecting our world.


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