A new Science Garden in Wrexham has moved one step nearer completion thanks to the help and support from a renewable energy company.
Based at Techniquest Glyndŵr at the university’s Wrexham campus, the Science Garden is a new development which will provide an attractive outdoor educational space that will be demonstrating themes of biodiversity, renewable energy and recycling.
Funding for the project was announced last year, when it was announced that the Wrexham-based science and discovery centre had secured a £18,604 grant from funding body WREN (Waste Recycling Environmental Network).
Work on the site has been ongoing for several months, with team of volunteers helping get the garden ready alongside a number of local companies have provided free or low cost materials for the garden.
Local schools, Ysgol Plas Coch and Rhosddu Primary School have also collected thousands of 2L plastic bottles which have been used to build a greenhouse.
However when it came it came to the installation of a solar thermal heating system to supply hot water to the science garden, there was not enough grant funding to install the solar panel and water tank that had already been purchased to allow it to become operational.
Techniquest Glyndŵr say that Chester-based renewable energy company, Genfit, have come to the centre’s rescue and will now install the ingenious “Solartwin” solar thermal panels.
Once complete the panels will be used to supply hot water for an outdoor hand wash basin for use by volunteers and visitors to the garden.
Speaking about the company’s involvement in the project, Dave Houston, director of Genfit, said: “We were very happy to help this local charity which is about promoting interest in science, including the use of renewable energy.
“As a local renewable energy company we are always trying to encourage people to using low carbon technologies either in a business context or at home.
“Installing this Solartwin panel in the Science Garden is a great opportunity to demonstrate the use of the sun’s energy both for gathering heat and electrical energy.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing the garden fully open in September and seeing how it develops over the next few years.”
The Solartwin solar panel incorporates a small photovoltaic panel to power a small water pump that pushes water through the solar panel which, after being heated by the sun’s energy, is then stored in a small insulated hot water tank installed in a nearby outbuilding.
The thermal panel complements the solar photovoltaic panels which are already operational in the Science Garden which are being used to charge up a high capacity battery which not only operates a water pump for a water feature in the wildlife pond, but also an air pump to help store heat in an underground heat store underneath the plastic bottle greenhouse that has been built in the garden.
Once installed the panels will play an important part to the science garden. which already includes various planted areas and raised beds including plants to encourage pollinating insects and to demonstrate examples of food plants that are helped by insects.
There is also an insect hotel providing a suitable habitat for insects to build their homes in, a wildlife pond, solar thermal and solar photovoltaic panels, a plastic bottle greenhouse and outdoor seating and picnic tables for visitors to enjoy the space.
Techniquest Glyndŵr Education Manager Scot Owen said: “We are so grateful for Genfit offering to install the Solartwin thermal panel in our science garden. It has meant we have been able to complete one of the last pieces of the jigsaw in the creation our garden.
“Their generosity has helped us to provide outdoor washing facilities for our volunteers as well as visitors to the garden making use of solar heated water from the solar panel.
“We have had ideas to develop a science garden on a piece of unused ground near one of our buildings for quite a number of years, and we are pleased that we have managed to obtain the funding and other support to help it finally become a reality.”
He added: “It will be open to the public free of charge after its official opening on 29th September and we hope local people will take the opportunity to visit the garden and see what we have managed to develop.”
The Science Garden has been grant funded by People’s Postcode Lottery, Big Lottery Awards for All (Wales) the Thomas Howell’s Educational Fund for North Wales and WREN (with financial contributions from Lendlease and Crownhouse which were facilitated by the North Wales Economic Ambitions Board)