Thursday, April 7, 2011 - 11:33

The Eden Project in Cornwall has unveiled a raft of new efficiency measures designed to cut its CO2 emissions by a quarter during the next two years.

These reductions will be made through a series of upgrades to Eden’s technical systems, many of which could be replicated in homes. They continue work that has seen Eden reduce its consumption of electricity by 6.5 per cent and gas intensity by 20 per cent since 2008.

A new Building Management System will be installed which will integrate the temperature controls in the Biomes with related systems on the rest of the Eden site. The new system is like a giant TV remote control allowing for very tight control of heat and electricity consumption. Further upgrades to Eden’s heating system will also be made.

These changes are estimated to greatly increase efficiency and, as a result, reduce Eden’s footprint by 694 tonnes of CO2 per year.

A new gas-fired, high-efficiency boiler system has been installed at Eden’s Watering Lane Nursery near Pentewan to reduce CO2 emissions by an estimated 231 tonnes per year. This will replace the previous oil-fired system.

Smaller, highly efficient boilers will be installed in Eden’s energy centre – the hub for electricity and gas at Eden – and the Visitor Centre. These will be more than 90 per cent efficient and are predicted to make CO2 savings of 182 tonnes per year.

These new boiler installations are being designed and installed with the help of Cornish companies. GPJ Consulting Engineers are the designers and Applied Pipework Services the installers. Both companies are based in Redruth.

Approximately 746 new LED lights have also be installed across the Eden Project, saving in the region of 51 tonnes of CO2 a year. This is one of the biggest installations of its kind in the country. The lights were installed and assembled in part by Softsun, a company based in nearby Bodmin.

Complementing this palette of measures is a new programme in partnership with The Energy Savings Trust called Big Green Hand. This programme will be focused on helping the Eden team, as well as their friends and families to make their own efficiency savings at home.

All Eden staff have access to an energy meter library whereby they can borrow a household energy meter for free. Further to this the “energy hotline” run by the Energy Savings Trust will be promoted to staff by the quirky ‘Captain Kilowatt’. Staff will also eventually be given green training, green investment opportunities and group discounts on products and services that will increase their energy efficiency at home.

In total, Eden is investing £580,000 in technical energy efficiency initiatives over two years. Financial savings once the new systems are installed are estimated at £160,000 per year (including the reduction in the carbon offset bill), meaning the initiatives should pay for themselves in less than three and a half years.

The investment will be paid for by a combination of Eden’s capital planning programme and an interest-free loan from the Carbon Trust that will be paid back from the savings made. These loans are available to all charities and small and medium enterprises across the country although are due for change shortly.

Matt Hastings, Eden’s Energy Manager, said: “While renewables are very important, the most critical tool in the box is a focused commitment to reducing consumption.

“All businesses and households are vulnerable to price changes in the energy market and with the potential cost of carbon starting to act as another factor, we have to invest today to protect ourselves from risk in the future.

“The UK will lose around 25 per cent of its electricity generation capacity by the end of the decade and while the lights might not go out, shortages of supply will increase price. It makes complete sense to be prepared well in advance of any energy crunch and with the unstable oil market still dictating other energy markets the future is too uncertain to be complacent.

”Eden is less than ten years old so our infrastructure is reasonably new but we, like other businesses and homes can still make significant improvements.

The energy crunch is coming. Investing in energy efficiency now is damage mitigation not damage prevention. We are fixing the roof before the rain comes.”

Peter Cox, Eden’s Finance Director, said: “This is a very exciting project for Eden which makes absolute sense in both environmental and financial terms. What is more, it is all well-established and proven technologies which any business could look at.”

By 2015, Eden aims to reduce emissions by a further 55 per cent, a total 80 per cent reduction in CO2 against a 2008 baseline, making the project’s 2015 target the same as the national target for 2050.

These reductions are set to be delivered by the introduction of what Eden and its partners EGS Energy hope will be one of, if not the UK’s first deep geothermal power plant. The energy from the plant will be enough to power the entire Eden Project and approximately 3,500 houses.