Westminster Abbey


Westminster Abbey has been the coronation church since the Battle of Hastings, is the final resting place of 17 monarchs and has played host to 16 royal weddings. Oliver Cromwell, Isaac Newton, Geoffrey Chaucer and Charles Darwin are all buried there.

It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its special cultural significance and was the UK’s top paid for visitor attraction in 2009.

The Problem

As an operational church, it is committed to The Church of England’s challenging carbon reduction target of 80% by 2050, with an interim target of 42% by 2020.

As a result, the Church of England is actively seeking energy saving measures. The challenge is exacerbated by the need to protect the historical and cultural significance of buildings such as the Abbey.

“Our World Heritage status and importance rules out intrusive measures such as solar panels and wind turbines, so we examined numerous energy savings measures, but needed something that would not materially change the building,” explains Jim Vincent, Westminster Abbey’s Clerk of Works. “The Abbey chose powerPerfector because it was non-intrusive and promised excellent savings.”

Our Solution

powerPerfector Voltage Power Optimisation units were installed on the incoming supply for the Blowing Chamber, which circulates air around the Abbey and the Floodlighting Cabinet which, as the name suggests, keeps the Abbey illuminated at night.

The types of electrical loads at the Abbey are well suited to VPO®. We see good savings from most lighting, air conditioning and chiller loads, whilst the long operational hours increase the level of savings.

As part of the installation, one of the units required a customised enclosure (6cm smaller than standard) in order for the unit to fit underneath the existing trunking.

The installation in the Blowing Chamber required a delivery down 14 stairs just 70cm wide. We worked with a specialist logistics company, who used an A-Frame and hoist to deliver the powerPerfector in individual component parts. The unit was delivered, reassembled and positioned in the chamber without incident.

The Results

The installation of two powerPerfector units at the Abbey ensures that the supply is more efficient and secure. It will cut bills by over 12%, saving approximately £8,400 a year. Carbon emissions are reduced by over 50 tonnes every year.

Aside from the energy savings, VPO® also provides power conditioning benefits in the form of a reduction in harmonic distortion, transients and three phase imbalance.

The Overview

  • 72,467 kWh Saved
  • 50,600 CO2kg Saved
  • £8,400 Saved

“The units were installed in late 2011 and the savings we were guaranteed have been independently assessed and found to have been exceeded. The performance guarantee meant no risk on our part and I would recommend the system to anyone.”

Jim Vincent, Westminster Abbey’s Clerk of Works

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