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Lake District hotel plans to run on water

A Lake District hotel and conference venue is planning to introduce a pioneering new technology which will make use of natural energy stored in England's largest lake to meet the majority of its energy needs and substantially reduce its carbon emissions.

The owners of the Low Wood Bay Resort Hotel & Marina have commissioned a water source heat pump (WSHP) system to convert latent heat contained in Windermere to provide heating and hot water for the resort hotel which has 111 bedrooms. It will generate around 3 million kilowatts of power a year, which is equivalent to the power needed to boil approximately 15 million kettles.  

It will  be the largest system of its kind to be used by a private business in the UK.  

Latent heat energy from Windermere will also be used to power a new glass fronted convention and exhibition centre planned on the site, as well as a new watersports complex.  

Tim Berry, Estates Director and co-owner of the family run business English Lakes Hotels, Resorts & Venues, believes the innovative technology will prove to be an added attraction for holidaymakers, business leaders and organisations from all over the country.  

He said: "In an age where businesses are concerned about their carbon footprint, our guests can holiday and clients can hold their conferences here knowing they will have significantly less impact on the environment.  

“Many people will be surprised that it is possible to generate so much energy from the cold waters of Windermere. This is an exciting and innovative form of renewable energy that has the potential to make a substantial contribution to the energy needs of areas like the Lake District.  

"This system will give us ownership of 60 per cent of our energy needs and make us less susceptible to fluctuations in gas and electricity prices, as well as providing substantial cost benefits and helping the environment.”  

The main part of the hotel is a listed building, dating back to 1718, and in the 1800s the hotel used to produce its own gas from burning coal.  Some of the original gas taps can still be seen within the building.  

"If it was good enough in the Victorian age for the hotel to produce its own energy, the question we asked ourselves was why can't we do it now. In those days we were thinking sustainably and now we are turning full circle.”  

The hotel has commissioned renewable energy and eco-building specialists Ground Sun to develop the system. Ground Sun is seeking approval from the Environment Agency to draw water from Windermere and pass it through a heat exchanger on the shore side before returning the water to the lake.  

Once the sustainability features have been added as part of a multi-million pound redevelopment programme, the hotel’s owners believe it will be the greenest in the UK.  

Ground Sun's chief engineer Brian Connell said: "Low Wood Bay Resort would become the UK’s first green, sustainable, low carbon holiday and conference destination.”  

"This technology offers a real solution to the UK's energy needs for the future, and will be crucial to helping the government meet its emissions targets.”  

He said similar systems are in place in Europe and North America, but the technology is rare in the UK.  

"No other privately owned business in the UK will have a WSHP system on this scale."  

Discussions are in an advanced stage, and a detailed planning application is expected to be submitted to the Lake District National Park Authority soon.  

Mr Berry added: "I hope this will lead the way for other hotels and tourist attractions in the area to use this great resource to enable Windermere to move towards becoming a carbon free tourism destination."  

The heat exchanger will take water from the lake and, with the use of a specialist high capacity heat pump, will generate temperatures of 75 degrees for use in the hotel's space heating and hot water systems, providing two-thirds of the hotel's energy needs. It will then return the water almost immediately back to the lake at around the same temperature it was taken out.  

The hotel also has a planning application in to build a hydro-electric power generator, harnessing the power from a nearby fast flowing stream, to provide electricity to assist the running of the heat pumps and the hotel.  

The hotel's existing gas boilers will be replaced by four 450 kilowatt heat pumps. These will be housed in a proposed new building complete with a glass viewing area to showcase the scheme to visitors.  

The heat from the heat pumps will be distributed through underground pipes constructed using a non-intrusive no-dig method that will cause minimal disruption.

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