Business, Canals, Tunnels and Penstocks, Europe

Dulas upgrading hybrid system that includes hydro, solar PV and battery storage

Dulas Ltd. says work to refurbish and upgrade the off-grid system at the National Trust’s Gibson Mill site will commence this week. The site features two hydro turbines, as well as a solar photovoltaic system and battery storage system.

The mill — located within Hardcastle Crags, Hebden Bridge — is the first heritage building with a visitor center and associated facilities to operate 100% off-grid and through the sole use of renewable energy technologies, Dulas says. Swelling visitor numbers and evolving event demands have increased the site’s energy use by 200% since 2005.  

Gibson Mill was built around 1800 as one of the first mills of the industrial revolution. After a century as a cotton mill, it was converted to provide entertainment for local people, offering a dance hall, roller-skating rink, refreshments and boating on the mill pond.

The National Trust acquired the mill after a period of disuse in 1950, and in 2005, with support from Dulas, launched a project to make the site entirely energy self-sufficient. The initial work included restoration and reinstatement of the mill’s original 1926 Francis hydro turbine and the installation of a smaller crossflow hydro turbine, solar photovoltaic system, and battery storage system. The combination of these technologies was chosen to ensure that the site’s electricity needs were met through sustainable means at all times. 

“Whilst this combination of sustainable technologies previously produced an excess of electricity for the site, Gibson Mill’s needs have evolved dramatically in the last 14 years,” said Jonathon Brewer, general manager for the National Trust at Hardcastle Crags. “Upgrading and refurbishing the 2005 system will make sure this extraordinary site can manage the power challenges raised by public and private events, as well as increasing visitor numbers.”

The modernization work will include replacing the original battery storage system with a new battery bank that offers 30% more storage capacity. The site’s three inverters will also be replaced and reconfigured to satisfy greater peak power demand and provide greater system flexibility.

Dulas is a renewable energy installer and consultancy, specializing in the wind, solar and hydro sectors. To date, the firm’s engineers, planners and consultants have worked on over 400 MW of renewables projects across the UK.