County Durham Castle is digging deep to find a new source of green energy

Lord Bernard

Lord Bernard

Raby Castle and Estate, located in the heart of County Durham, is committed to sustainability as part of a highly ambitious two-year redevelopment and restoration plan, known locally as The Rising.

The estate has drilled two geothermal exploratory wells to determine whether a renewable energy source would help meet the annual heating requirements of The Rising scheme.

The Rising is the largest project to be undertaken at the estate in generations and involves the restoration and reuse of three beautiful heritage buildings in the magnificent grounds of Raby Castle, providing a unique experience for visitors. In addition to the construction of two carefully designed new buildings, the project also includes the redesign of the historic walled garden and the creation of landscaped public areas.

The project will open up spaces never before seen to the public, as well as introducing new event and exhibition spaces, retail and dining and a new visitor information centre. The first phase, construction of The Plotters’ Forest Adventure Playground and new visitor car park, will be completed in 2022, with the second phase currently ongoing.

Sustainability and protecting the future are a key focus of the estate and its custodian, Lord Barnard. While expansion often means more demand on resources, there is a commitment to reducing the environmental impact of development.

Lord Barnard said: “I am pleased that the initial studies have been very positive and suggest that we may have a long-term renewable energy source here at Raby Castle. Lady Barnard and I felt it was important to pursue this matter and it will give me a great sense of pride to know that Raby Castle has Secures a renewable future for future generations.

Raby Estate is working closely with local specialist designers TGA Consulting Engineers to explore renewable energy. The designer’s mechanical, electrical and structural performance teams have demonstrated, through in-depth analysis, that heat can be extracted from the ground via an ‘open loop’ ground source heat pump system, saving 60% of the annual heat demand from the Rising scheme and reducing the development’s carbon emissions by 40% .

“The first phase of testing has shown very positive results,” says Matthew Cole, technical director at TGA Consulting Engineers.

“This is an excellent and challenging project, with a lot of feasibility work on the appropriate integration of renewable energy solutions at site level. It is hoped that the wells will provide at least 200 kW of sustainable, low carbon thermal energy, with the opportunity to add more heat pump units in due course.” Later.

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“The hope is to install a new ground source heat pump system for district heating, delivering heat to several buildings on the site – a valuable step towards Raby’s renewable future, and the start of Raby Estate’s net zero journey.”

More tests will be conducted over the coming months, with a final report scheduled for early 2024.

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