Renewables at Dartington

At Dartington Hall, a significant proportion of our energy is produced via renewables, in the form of two 950kw biomass boilers and a 500kh(p) solar-PV array. It’s all part of Dartington’s commitment to clean energy, and our investment in these technologies has reduced our carbon emissions by 725 tonnes and fuel bills by £160,000 each year.

Biomass boiler

Our 950kW Viessmann biomass boilers, which were installed by Aston Cord Energy Services Ltd, provide heat to the Visitor Centre, the listed medieval Courtyard buildings and the Granary (opposite the Visitor Centre).

The Dartington estate was previously home to a large number of oil-fired boilers costing upwards of £350,000 a year to run – with half of this sum required to heat the Grade I listed medieval Courtyard containing the oldest and largest buildings on the estate. The new biomass boilers cut our carbon emissions by 400 tonnes, and help save us £80,000 a year.

Project manager Richard Williams says: “It was a memorable day when the first wisps of steam appeared from the chimney early one morning. The location of the system, next to the Visitor Centre, will mean that visitors can witness its operation first-hand.

“We’re developing visitor-friendly information explaining how the system works – including a dashboard similar to the one we’ve created for our nearby solar-PV array. Meanwhile we’re continuing to work to promote agro forestry and woodland management on the estate, including a biomass fuel trial with the Forestry Commission. This will give us the potential to provide a significant amount of the wood chip for our biomass from the estate itself.”

Gallery: How does our biomass boiler work?

Solar array

Dartington’s solar-PV array was installed by Molesolar Plus. It is expected that 77% of the electricity generated will meet 30% of the estate’s needs through its existing high voltage distribution network.

The remaining 23% of electricity will be contributed to the national grid. The array, which is positioned in a field on the north of Upper Drive just beyond a row of estate homes, is set to cut Dartington’s carbon emissions by 325 tonnes and save the Trust £80,000 a year.

Dartington aims to graze sheep in the field so panels have been raised at the lower end to allow sheep to pass under them. The AC/DC inverters will be protected by fencing to prevent the sheep gaining access and damaging the equipment.