Anglo-Saxon site showcases latest heat pump technology

Renewable heating helps Council cut carbon emissions by 70%

A historic Anglo-Saxon site and visitor centre near Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, has cut its carbon emissions by 70% and created more welcoming facilities for visitors, thanks to a heat pump system installed by renewable heating experts Finn Geotherm.

West Stow is the site of an early Anglo-Saxon village, occupied from AD 420-650, over 400 years before the Norman Conquest. The reconstructed Anglo-Saxon village attracts visitors from schools, tourists and locals throughout the year. It is surrounded by West Stow Country Park, a stunning 125 acre site featuring trails, heath and woodland.

West Stow’s visitor centre and the country park café had previously been heated by an oil-fired boiler, which was inefficient and expensive. With West Suffolk Council committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2030, a more environmentally friendly and effective solution was needed.

Finn Geotherm specified and installed two Lämpöässä Eli 60 ground source heat pumps, to provide all the heating and hot water for the visitor centre, museum and café. Heat is collected from the ground using bore holes – Finn Geotherm carefully installed 14 boreholes, each one 147metres deep, near the village’s collections building. The boreholes, created in a ‘closed loop system’, feed the heat pumps which are situated in a purpose-built plant room adjacent to the village’s museum. The system is also designed to provide passive cooling, using the ground’s temperature to maintain a comfortable environment for visitors in summer and provide exact temperature control within the facility’s museum precious artefact centre.

By installing this renewable energy heating system, West Stow has cut its energy use by 70%, making a significant impact on carbon emissions and heating bills, as well as delivering a much more sustainable system, which will last three times longer than a conventional boiler.

The installation also qualifies for the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), a Government scheme which assists with the project’s capital cost by providing quarterly payments for 20 years.

Glynis Baxter at West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village, said: “Our village showcases some of the earliest forms of heating – a fire pit dug in the ground with a hole in the roof of the house to let out the smoke – so it is brilliant for us to have the contrast of a heat pump, the latest in renewable technology, heating our facilities. The new system enables us to maintain a steady warm temperature all year round, which is ideal not only for our artefacts, but for visitors too.”

Guy Ransom, commercial director for Finn Geotherm, said: “We are delighted to complete this installation at West Stow, which has had a big impact on the site and created a more welcoming centre for visitors. It is good to see West Suffolk Council taking its commitment to cutting carbon emissions so seriously and stepping away from fossil fuels. This heat pump installation is a great example of the potential of this technology to provide sustainable, environmentally friendly heating that can be retrofitted in any location – from AD 420-650 to modern day.”

Cllr John Griffiths, Leader of West Suffolk Council, said: “This investment, and others we are making to improve energy efficiency and cut fuel bills in property we own, is part of our commitment to address the climate emergency. We have also been able to take advantage of Government funding which is available to individual home occupiers as well. Technology has brought us a long way since the firepit and details of what grants can be used for and how to apply can be found on our website and at www.greensuffolk.org.”

Key features of the project:

  • 70% reduction in carbon emissions
  • 70% reduction in energy use
  • Highly effective, efficient heating
  • Passive cooling in summer
  • Steady temperature to help maintain artefacts

For more information on ground and air source heat pumps and details on Finn Geotherm, visit www.finn-geotherm.co.uk.

This installation at West Stow has just been shortlisted in The Energy Awards 2021, which reward excellence in the energy business, from new energy efficient products and technology to local authority initiatives and commercial and residential installations. Finn Geotherm has been shortlisted within the Public Building Energy Project category, with winners to be announced in September.