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Historic museum sees the light with solar panels

One of the largest installations of solar panels on a historic building near Devon is set to generate money from green energy and save cash on electricity bills, the National Trust said.

The 113 square metre coverage of photovoltaic (PV) panels to generate electricity from the sun has been fitted to the roof of the National Trust Carriage Museum at Arlington Court near Barnstaple, Devon.

The solar panels will generate up to 6.3 megawatt hours of electricity a year, saving £600 on the museum's electricity bills and making around £2,270 a year from "feed-in tariffs" which pay people to generate electricity from small-scale renewable sources.

The trust also said the installation of the panels would help protect the carriages by reducing the amount of ultraviolet light, which can damage parts such as fabric and wood on the historic items, which include royal carriages.

The solar panels have replaced 86 glass panes with panels that each contain 27 PV cells and allow a certain amount of light to pass through.

The site at Arlington Court is the latest of 25 National Trust properties to install green energy ranging from solar panels to biomass boilers as part of a partnership with npower.

The project has been funded by sales of National Trust Green Energy which is supplied by npower. The trust is aiming to cut its overall energy demand by 20 per cent by 2020 and to switch to renewable energy.

Arlington Court property manager Ana Chylack said: "We have worked hard across the property to reduce our energy consumption and it has already really made a difference to our bills. With these panels we can make a small contribution to the panels we use as well as protecting our amazing carriages."

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