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Charles Barclay Architects’ off-grid Kielder Observatory

Observatory powered by wind turbine and PVs


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.


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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