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Renewable energy made normal

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 15 April 2009 at 8:19 am

Congratulations to the Forestry Commission in Wales which is doing a great job of bringing renewable energy into the mainstream. We had a well-earned rest over Easter at Nant yr Arian, near Aberystwyth. Though our main reason for going there was the excellent mountain bike tracks they've built there, they weren't the things that I'll remember most from the weekend.

First, and of no relevance to this article, was the enormous luck of spending four days in Wales and not getting rained on. The hills were even more beautiful in the glorious sunshine.

Second, and also irrelevant, were the red kites. We just happened to get back from a ride in time to see them being fed - and what a magnificent sight it was. One that will stay in my memory for ever. There must have been at least a hundred of them gliding, swooping, diving, playing and filling the sky. How they didn't collide with each other is a mystery.

And, to get to the point, I was enormously impressed with the Nant yr Arian visitor centre. With its wooden cladding, carved red kite on the front, and steep grass roof it's attractive to look at, and pleasant to be in. It also manages to keep its carbon emissions low, and educate people about how it does it, in a way that's entertaining, interesting and not at all preachy.

The centre snuggles into the edge of a pine forest, and it is heated with a woodchip boiler. Information about this is shared in a poster outside the main entrance, which explains how it works in a series of pictures and a little bit of explanatory text.

The water for the bike wash and for flushing the toilets was supplied by rainwater harvesting. Similar pictures in each cubicle explained how the system worked or how the waste was composted, so that it could be re-used on the land. It was all so matter of fact and sensible. The more that people see this sort of thing done, and simply presented, the more mainstream it will become. Keep up the good work.

Photo of Red Kite by Dave Hamster

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