Botanic garden turns to nature

National Botanic Garden of Wales has completed an extensive renewable energy heating project set to create significant savings in fossil fuel energy costs and CO2 emissions.

Based in Carmarthenshire, the most visited Welsh garden has recently commissioned a 500kW biomass boiler to deliver the site’s heat demands.

The new biomass plant will offset approximately 130,000 litres of oil per year, which will prevent 366 tonnes of CO2 emissions and in turn produce £37,515 of fuel cost savings per year for the registered charity.

As well as meeting its environmental objectives, the National Botanic Garden of Wales has applied for accreditation on the government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme that could generate an extra annual income of £41,000.

The installation and design of the biomass heating system was overseen and project managed by renewable energy consultancy, Sustainable Energy Ltd, in partnership with the Carbon Trust, who also partly funded the project.

Dr Rosie Plummer, director of National Botanic Garden of Wales, said: “This biomass installation demonstrates our continued commitment to the environment. We are grateful to the Carbon Trust and Sustainable Energy Ltd for their support throughout this process. The professionalism, technical expertise and quality of advice and service we have received from the consultants at Sustainable Energy has been absolutely excellent.”

Having spent over £70,000 on heating oil and £30,000 on gas over the 2010 winter, National Botanic Garden of Wales identified the need to look at reducing the amount of fossil fuel used on site.

With support from the Carbon Trust, a feasibility study was carried out that determined that a 500kW biomass boiler would be sufficient to supply heat to four of the site’s glasshouses, the conference centre, an administration building, shops and the restaurant via a district heating main.

Two existing 1MW oil boilers were retained and have been fully integrated into the biomass heating system to supplement heating to the site during times of peak heat demand and back up heat during periods of scheduled maintenance for the biomass boiler.

Dr Gabriel Gallagher, managing director of Sustainable Energy, added: “The Renewable Heat Incentive scheme has made biomass heating an attractive financial investment for the Garden, whilst ensuring their commitment to the environment is kept at the forefront of their activities. It has been a pleasure to work with the forward-thinking team at National Botanic Garden of Wales and we hope it attracts attention from visitors as an excellent case for private and public sector organisations to consider renewable energy.”

The biomass boiler is on view to visitors as part of the garden’s ‘sustainability trail’, as well as being used for schools education.

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