The first stage is a £3.5m investment in five pilot projects including hydro, biomass and heat pumps, during 2013/14.
If the pilot is successful, the Trust expects to roll out a £35m programme to generate 50% of its energy from renewable sources and so halve its fossil fuel consumption by 2020.
The Trust is working in conjunction with green electricity supplier Good Energy. The deal gives the energy firm access to the four million National Trust members
The National Trust spends nearly £6m a year to heat and power its estate currently – 300 major historic houses, plus office buildings, visitor centres and 360 holiday cottages – and without action it forecasts that rising oil and gas prices would take this to £7.5m by 2020.
However, the renewables investment programme is expected to reduce operational energy costs by £4.3 million from 2019 and provide an expected 10% return on investment, thanks to lower fuel costs and schemes such as the Feed-in Tariff and Renewable Heat Incentive.
The Trust’s five pilot projects this year are:
- Plas Newydd – 300kW marine source heat pump, providing 100% of property’s heat requirements
- Croft Castle – 150kW biomass boiler, supplying 74% of property’s heating needs
- Ickworth – 300kW biomass boiler, supplying 100% of estate’s heating needs
- Craflwyn – more than 100kW hydro-generation, which will be sold back to the grid
- Stickle Ghyll – 90kW hydro-electric project providing 30% of property’s energy needs.
If the trial phase is deemed successful, the National Trust plans 38 further schemes tailored to individual properties.
Patrick Begg, rural enterprises director at National Trust, said: “Through our work we show that renewable technologies can be made to work in some of the country’s most sensitive landscapes and historic environments.”
“Like householders everywhere we are facing rising energy bills. We spend more than £6 million each year heating and powering the places in our care.”
“By investing in renewable energy production we can reduce our energy bills and invest more in vital conservation work around the country. It will put renewable energy at the heart of conservation.”