Bank's freezers preserve 2 billion seeds
TWO BILLION seeds from endangered plant species have been conserved using a freezing technique that benefits from sunlight.
Freezers at Kew's Millennium Seed Bank at Wakehurst Place have been preserving rare seeds using power generated by 270 solar panels.
Yesterday, the longest day of the year, the panels were expected to have produced up to 400 kilowatt hours of electricity.
Over the course of a year they will generate an estimated 48,500 kWh of free electricity – more than enough to power the freezer units that currently store 2 billion seeds from more than 30,000 species at temperatures of -20C.
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Energy consumption at the Seed Bank has already been reduced by measures such as introducing low energy computers and incubators, installing intelligent boiler controls, and changing behaviour.
Energy manager for Kew and Wakehurst Place Tom Parrott said: "Previously the electricity used in Kew's Millennium Seed Bank came from the National Grid and our target for the Seed Bank is for 100 per cent of its energy needs to be met from renewable sources by 2020.
"The solar panels are an important first step towards this and their installation is the largest project of its kind undertaken by Kew. The panels will produce enough energy to power all of the bank's seed stores."
He added the centre is on target to hit its annual target, weather permitting.