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Charles Barclay Architects’ off-grid Kielder Observatory

Observatory powered by wind turbine and PVs

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It’s always refreshing to hear good news about how buildings are working in practice a few years after they open. Charles Barclay Architects’ Kielder Observatory (AJ 17.07.08) in Northumberland has attracted more than 40,000 visitors since it opened in 2008.

Powered by a Proven 2.5kW wind turbine installed by Winsund, the shelter operates completely off-grid. Ten 130 pW photovoltaic panels mounted on the roof add to the energy supply, with any excess generated stored in 24 deep cell batteries.

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Whilst normally being sufficient to power the lighting, telescope drives, shutter drives, laptops and projector, in times of heavy or prolonged use - for example biannual ‘Star Camps’ - a portable generator is brought in to top up the batteries.

The observatory also has a composting toilet, and a wood burning stove. The structure with build cost totalling £415,000, was constructed from Douglas fir and Siberian larch.

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