News article created on 7 February 2017

Energy reduction - #showthelove

Did you know?

Every hour enough plastic to fill two bin bags is washed into our oceans from canals and rivers.

We are supporting #showthelove, the campaign that looks towards 100% clean energy within a generation. Here, Gavin Beat, our Green Plan Developer provides insight into our energy reduction work, the challenges we face and some of our aspirations for clean and renewable energy.

#showthelove campaign

Being a responsible organisation 

Here at the Trust we are conscious of the impact from our energy consumption. Since 2010 we have partnered with the Carbon Trust to better understand our carbon emissions (of which between 65 - 70% is via gas and electricity) and make large strides in reducing our impacts. We call this our Green Plan work.

Our motivation

Our motivation for reducing energy use and supporting clean, green energy arrives on many fronts. Waterways are fantastic outdoor spaces that we work to protect and enhance in a sustainable manner. Energy reduction is key and being responsible – leading the way wherever we can - sits within our everyday values.

As an environmental professional (and dad of two) the prospect of using more and more “clean energy” is a big personal motivation for me – being able to exist within our means and build a platform for future generations.

The reality is that so called “being green” doesn’t necessarily appeal to all. It is why I am always keen to emphasise that helping the Trust act smart and reduce our energy use and emissions, saves money each and every time – saving precious funds we can reinvest into our work. Being frugal with all energy use has to be a winner for all staff, volunteers, customers and supporters, irrespective of differing outlooks and opinion on climate change or any scientific or technical debate.

Energy reduction success

In 2016 we were delighted to re-certify to the Carbon Trust Standard, demonstrating a further 6.7% reduction in our overall emissions from energy use and transport.

Some key aspects that have led to this change include:

  • investment in energy efficient LED lighting.
  • fuel management software & internal speed limits on our commercial vehicles.
  • increasing our travel by train, rather than by car.
  • increased energy awareness leading to positive behavioural change.
  • introduction of electric vehicles and charge points.

Our challenges

We have numerous challenges to overcome in order to continually improve. Our biggest hurdle is that the beautiful waterways we care for are so geographically diverse. We do need to travel widely, albeit we work hard to reduce this impact through the use of technology such as video conferencing and public transport.

It may come as a surprise that up to one third of our electricity use is to pump water. This is very apt given the focus of #showthelove on climate change. We consume large amounts of energy during drought, and in some cases during flooding. Our challenge moving forward is to minimise our energy use at our pumping stations wherever we can, without comprising our operational needs, for the widespread ecological, navigational and amenity benefit this supports.  

See picture below of our Solar Panels at Caen Hill, Devizes – helping to reduce the cost and impact of its adjacent pump station.

Solar Panels at Caen Hill

Future planning

We are developing a long term carbon management plan with good energy management and reduction at its core. You will hear more about this over the coming months. For now, here is a small flavour of some of our work areas:

LED Lighting

We continue to invest in LED lighting at our offices, workplaces and attractions as we have done for a number of years. Quite simply - this is a no-brainer! We benefit from large scale energy reduction, better lighting quality, increased life span and reduced maintenance. It does however take time to roll out and we are adding to this all the time.

Heat pumps

We see a great future for heat pumps – in particular water sourced heating. This means using the energy present within water – effectively via a fridge operating in reverse in order to provide heat via radiators, underfloor heating and more, using a fraction of the electricity that would normally be used. We are very keen to introduce this to our own sites.

Also, we are supportive of third party use of waterways for heating and / or cooling where these are situated in the right locations and where there is no undue impact – for example on water quality or temperature. This offers great promise to support large scale low energy, low carbon heating across districts.


We have supported many large scale hydropower schemes that have been built (and financed) by third parties. A recent very exciting project has been in supporting a community led hydropower scheme at Killington Reservoir – using water destined to supply the Lancaster Canal.

Many people ask why we don’t do more to support and introduce widespread small scale hydropower at our own sites. There are many considerations and many will be shaped by emerging technology and by improving economics and practicalities of installation that will help us to put this into practice. Over time this can and will gain momentum and become more practicable for us.

Anderton Boat Lift hydropower

A project that genuinely excites me is our desire to introduce a (self-funded) hydropower unit at The Anderton Boat Lift, using waste water flowing from the Trent & Mersey to the River Weaver. This remains at the feasibility stage but we are working extremely hard to make this work in 2017.

Anderton is one of our top ten energy users. If progressed, the turbine would supply around a third of our energy need, plus provide an extremely interesting addition to the visitor attraction and education experience. I have all my fingers crossed, plus everything else, that we can find a way to make this happen!


Waterways are historic assets, often with heritage designations. They are true examples of innovation and I am personally mindful of the need to move with this spirit in terms of sustainable energy. For the future we clearly need to consider modern innovative means of storage and “smart use”. For hydropower we can look towards more extensively using the natural, renewable resources available to us, just as the great pioneers of our waterways did. It is definitely work in progress and a big opportunity to show our love to future generations.

Follow our green plan news

I hope that this provides some interesting background to our very varied energy efficiency work.

For regular updates why not follow our green plan work via twitter - @CRTGreenPlan

Thanks for reading.

Gavin Beat, Green Plan Developer 

About this blog

The environment team

The Canal & River Trust has top team of committed experts and enthusiasts, who help to protect our waterway environment and improve it for both people and nature. Follow this blog to find out more about the hugely varied work they carry out.

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