Tidal energy is being used to convert the currents of the Menai Strait into heating for the Plas Newydd Mansion in Anglesey. The National Trust property in North Wales will be equipped with a 300kW pump.
The way it will work will be to pump a small amount of seawater through pipes to a heat exchanger on shore. The water will then be sent up a 30 metre cliff face to the mansion’s boiler house.
The system uses electricity to work the exchanger and then the pump and the final heat is produced at a relatively low temperature. In the case of Plas Newydd it will only reach 55C but this is ideal for maintaining a temperature for the building’s conservation.
Up Front Cost and Anual Savings
The pump cost the National Trust £600,000 and will save around £40,000 in annual operating costs. The system will also remove the mansion as the Trust’s most polluting property, removing its dependence on oil for heating.
By using the pump the CO2 performance and money savings each year will be returned to the upkeep of the mansion.
More than 40 people have worked on the project which has proven to be both complex and challenging in terms of operating around the tides and getting equipment into and out of the site. The design also had to meet the criteria of the Government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) which stipulates specific performance requirements.
Enthusiasm About the Project
Paul Southall, an Environmental Advisor at the National Trust, said: “The installation of the marine source heat pump at Plas Newydd forms part of the National Trust’s Grow Your Own Energy programme which includes targets of reducing energy usage by 20 per cent and meeting half of our energy requirements through renewable energy. The vast amount of money we were spending on heating Plas Newydd with oil is money that we were not able to spend on conservation.
“This project has seen a number of firsts – the first marine source heat pump of its type in the UK, the biggest at 300kW and the first in open sea rather than a harbour. What has been done is genuinely cutting-edge and I have nothing but praise for Stiebel Eltron and Kimpton who were faced with the unique challenge of designing and installing the heat pump. Considering the scale of the project, everything has gone remarkably smoothly.”
Adam Ellis-Jones, Assistant Director for Operations in Wales for the National Trust, said: “With the Irish Sea right on the doorstep of Plas Newydd, a marine source heat pump was the best option for us. However, being a pioneer is never easy. There are very few marine source heat pumps and nothing of this size in the UK, so it has been a challenging project but a very exciting one.”
The use of heat pumps is not a universally suitable option for all properties. It is an option that works for places like Plas Newydd because it was not connected to the gas grid and relied on expensive oil heating.