Chatsworth, the Derbyshire country estate in the scenic Peak District, is set to take a major step forward in securing a sustainable energy future with the opening of its Renewable Energy Centre tomorrow (5 December).
Funded by the 2010 'attic sale' of items surplus to the core of its collection in 2010, more than £2.5m has been used to build a low carbon, combined heat and power biomass gasification system which will feed 97% of the electricity and 72% of the heating to the 300-room house, garden, shops and restaurants.
The Duke of Devonshire said: "By using funds raised from the attic sale the past is playing its part in providing Chatsworth with a sustainable future - helping reduce our carbon footprint and supporting the on-going maintenance of our woodlands and ecosystem."
The wood fuel will all be sourced from the estate itself - using timber felled as part of the estate's forest management operations, which is then air-dried for up to a year, and chipped.
The system then converts the woodchip into a clean, combustible gas and drives a generator to produce electricity and heat. Due to the high temperature of the process, said a spokesman, "there are no air quality issues and there is no visible smoke plume".
Previously, first thinnings and some second thinnings would have been left to rot down with the better material often sold to the bulk chip market as low value logs.
The CHP system will supply the house, stables and greenhouses in the garden with electricity and heat. Every year the CHP system will produce 1.8 million kWh of electricity, 97% of annual use, and 2.3 million kWh of heat, 72% of annual use. It is expected to reduce carbon emissions by over 1,300 tonnes.
Visitors will be able to visit Chatsworth's Renewable Energy Centre from December 2013.