Cumbria is set to be home to Europe’s first solar powered railway next year. A £5.5m scheme to extend and upgrade the Alston-based South Tynedale Railway is set to go ahead, including two major environmental projects. The upgrade won’t just benefit tourists but also run electric trains, powered by the sun, for everyday, all-year-round commuters. The volunteer-run railway will be extended to Slaggyford, just north of Alston, by 2016. It is hoped that by 2025 trains will run to larger towns such as Haltwhistle, encouraging commuters to leave the car behind. Steam trains will be adapted to be powered by processed wood waste.
ONE thousand solar panels have been placed atop a city centre car park as the Plymouth City Council embraces World Environment Day. The Western Approach car park installation is the largest by the council so far and is expected to earn back its £295,000 cost through its lifetime of savings on energy spending. The council plans to go a step further by fitting LED lights and hopes to slash electricity use by up to 70 per cent putting Western Approach in the running to become one of the greenest car parks nationwide.
Solar Schools has announced that it has raised over £100,000 in eight months in order to install solar arrays on 19 schools across the UK. The programme, run by 10:10, encourages schools to use a combination of fundraising techniques to help raise the money required to install solar. 10:10 calculates that a typical PV installation will generate over £30,000 in energy savings and associated feed-in tariff (FiT) payments for a school over the array’s FiT lifespan.
Pembrokeshire based Western Solar Ltd has announced plans to build Wales’ first Solar Hamlet at Glanrhyd in North Pembrokeshire based on their award winning Ty Solar zero energy home, exclusively for people local to the North Pembrokeshire area. A development application has been lodged by Western Solar Ltd with Pembrokeshire National Parks for consideration to convert the former garage at Glanrhyd to erect six homes. The houses will be manufactured at Brynawelon Farm near Croft by a newly established eco factory that intends to meet, what it hopes will be, growing demand for zero energy housing.
A new 100kw hydro scheme has been switched on at the foot of Inverlochlarig burn, a course of water which feeds into Loch Doine, then Loch Voil and eventually the Firth of Forth. Inverlochlarig, near Lochearnhead and within the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, is a 10,000 acre hill farm which has been tended to by the same family since 1877. It is home to more than 3,500 Scottish Blackface and Cheviot Ewes and a herd of 100 cattle.
The world’s first community-owned tidal power turbine has started producing electricity for the local grid. The turbine will power up to 30 homes, a locally owned ice plant, and Cullivoe Harbour Industrial Estate on Yell, in the Shetland Islands. The turbine is fixed on the seabed at a depth of more than 100ft and is designed to turn as the tide flows past it, driving a generator and producing electricity that is transmitted onshore via a 1km-long subsea table. It has been developed by Leith-based tidal energy company Nova Innovation and is wholly owned by the North Yell Development Council (NYDC), a company limited by guarantee and a charity.
A 900kW wind turbine is being installed on the most north westerly point of the Isle of Barra. It is expected that after a few years the revenue from the turbine will be able to be used for developments on the island. Barra now joins the group of islands with wholly community-owned wind turbines from Gigha in the south, through Tiree, South Uist, Lewis to the Orkney Isles.
The Lake District’s biggest hydro-electric project has been installed using a small weir on a tributary of the River Duddon. The £1.5 million scheme located at Logan Gill was one of the first renewable energy schemes in the UK to benefit from the feed-in tariff. The development has been undertaken by Ellergreen Hydro based in Kendal. Logan Gill – a 450kW scheme – was conceived and designed locally by specialist hydro consultants Inter Hydro, built by local contractors, and using a hydro-electric turbine made by Gilkes of Kendal, who have been global hydro industry leaders for over 150 years. It was financed by The Co-operative Bank, which has dedicated expertise in supporting small to medium scale renewable energy projects. Other schemes in Cumbria by Ellergreen Hydro include:
- Docker Nook – a 15kW Micro Hydro Scheme on a hill farm.
- Kilnstones – a 30kW project on a farm in Longsleddale.
- Kentmere Hall – a 60kW high head scheme on an historic hill farm.
- Burnside – a 100kW project on the River Kent using an Archimedes Screw to produce power for a paper mill.
- Broad Oak – a 100kW farm diversification scheme.
- Cunsey Beck – a 60kW scheme to revive an old water mill.