Going green: investing in green energy
Did you know our lush fields and thriving forests aren’t the only things that are green at the Brecon Beacons National Parks? We’re committed to making our energy green too. But what is ‘green energy’ and why is it important?
Energy from natural resources – such as sunlight, wind or tides – is known as green energy. It’s less harmful than energy created from fossil fuels because it’s made from renewable sources and greenhouse gases aren’t emitted.
Energy is needed for us to welcome guests and look after our National Park but we don’t want that to have a negative impact on the ecosystems we’re trying to protect so we’re taking steps to minimise our carbon footprint and go green.
Wayne Lewis, our Commercial Manager, explains: “As an environmental organisation, we need to show how much we’re invested in reducing our carbon emissions and inspire others to follow our lead. Of course, there’s the added benefit that it saves money on utility bills in the longer term.”
We’ve spent the past two years installing new solar panels on all the buildings we own and upgrading to more efficient battery systems. Now, we have a staggering 76 panels on our main visitor centre and one of our smaller buildings is totally off grid!
Lewis explains why solar is such a great option: “As our sites operate during the daytime when the sun is shining – from 9am to 5pm – with minimal energy usage overnight, we’re generating nearly all our electricity at the time we need it. When we generate more electricity than we use, it goes into the batteries to use later and, only once that has been used, we take power from the grid.”
It doesn’t end with solar. We’ve replaced all the grounds workers’ petrol-powered tools – such as strimmers, lawnmowers and leaf blowers – with battery operated versions and even have an electric tractor. We’ve also transitioned to electric or hybrid cars across our fleet and installed car charging points at three of our sites. These are proving particularly popular with guests, says Lewis: “During the summer, it’s rare to have a day when somebody doesn’t use a charging point.”
If you’re inspired and want to go green in your own home, reducing energy consumption is key. A few small changes will soon make a big difference:
- Switch off computers and TVs instead of leaving them on standby.
- Use LED lightbulbs and switch off lights when not in use.
- Use a draught excluder and thick curtains to keep heat in.
- Only run your dishwasher when full.
- Turn your heating down by 1 degree – the energy saving will add up!
- Invest in insulation and double glazing.
If you’re considering installing solar panels at your home, think about:
- Positioning: you want as much strong sunlight as possible to generate power so make sure your property isn’t shaded by tall trees, for example.
- Regulations: check with your local electricity provider that there are no infrastructure regulations to prevent you from installing panels.
- Tiles: check your tiles are in good condition because it’s easier to replace them before installing the panels.
- Timing: solar power is only generated when the sun is out so think about when you use the most energy
- Battery storage: if you’re usually out all day and use power when you get home, investing in battery storage will allow you to use the stored power in the evenings.
So, what’s next for the Brecon Beacons National Park? We’re looking at improving our energy efficiency through additional roofing and wall insulation, double glazing and new doors. We’re investing in more efficient boilers and hope to introduce air source or ground source heating. All these steps will continue to reduce the amount of carbon produced across our buildings and contribute to the protection of our precious parks.