REMS Visit Renewable Energy Systems and Follow the Paper Trail

17 April 2012

On 12 April REMS members gathered at RES, (Renewable Energy Systems), for a visit organised by Tony Manning.

Wind turbine

Their wind turbine is visible from the M25 near Kings Langley. RES headquarters, formerly the Ovaltine Egg Farm, was refurbished to minimise energy requirements as RES headquarters. 

The turbine was bought second hand from a wind farm in Denmark and has operated for 17 years. It is complemented by solar panels for both heating and solar electricity. Some of the hot water is stored for use later but the system here is not entirely satisfactory. The main heating system is via a large wood chip boiler. Some examples of RES projects include The Wild Horse Project in Washington where RES was the plant contractor, Taugberg wind farm in Co. Cork with 11 turbines owned by RES, Albion Square PV canopy in Woking and development of some off-shore wind farms owned by Centrica to give but a few.

The audience had plenty of questions about wind energy and discovered that the bulk of the turbines are AC machines with step up transformers in the towers to increase voltage for the power lines. Usually the maximum output is stated but this requires the correct wind speed, it would be more usual to have around half of the maximum capacity generated. Lunch was taken at The Paper Mill in Apsley prior to the visit to the Paper Trail.

A short car journey from our lunch venue took us to Frogmore Paper Mill. Once called the Convent Mill. The site was used for paper-making, all hand done, in 1774.

The London wholesale stationers, the Fourdrinier brothers, obtained the 1799 patent of Frenchman Nicholas L Roberts for a paper making machine. They commissioned Bryan Donkin to develop the machine thus creating the world’s first continuous paper making machine, which was installed in Frogmore. A second improved machine was installed in 1803. The Frogmore mill was once water powered.

The Fourdrinier brothers became bankrupt in 1810 but Donkin continued making machines which were sold subject to royalties payable, the majority of paper-making machines worldwide a still known as Fourdrinier machines.

In 1890 The British Paper Company was operating the mill using waste paper and cotton. Early output was sold to John Dickenson whose factory was further along the river. Bus, tram and rail tickets of various colours were also produced at the mill, as well as postcards. A second machine was installed in 1907, having being built in 1890. This machine was once powered by a steam engine and was producing paper for around 100 years. However, the economic climate brought this machine to a halt in 2009.

As part of the tour there was a demonstration of letterpress printing with a group member printing a welcome notice. A hand paper making demonstration was also included, as was an exhibition and a tour of the factory.