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Wind-powered opera


In its second year of operation, Glyndebourne’s wind turbine has smashed its target: it was expected to generate 90% of the organisation’s electricity but managed to cover 102% in the 12 months up to January 2014.

Glyndebourne is the first UK arts organisation to generate its own power using a large scale wind turbine. Any power that isn’t used by Glyndebourne is exported to the local grid to provide a source of renewable energy for the community.

The Sussex opera house, recognised as one of the best in the world, is the home of the annual Glyndebourne Festival that attracts vintage cars, ball gowns and champagne picnics to the grounds of the country home of John Christie.

An ‘environmental innovator’

Sir David Attenborough launched Glyndebourne’s German-manufactured Enercon 44 on 20 January 2012, endorsing the opera house as an environmental innovator in the arts community.

Speaking at the launch, Sir David Attenborough said, ‘Wind power can never provide for all our wants but every bit of power generated by wind must be welcomed. Even if we only generate a fraction of what our country needs in this way, then we must.’

In the 24 months since the turbine was launched, it has provided 95% of the organisation’s electricity needs.

Glyndebourne was able to beat its target thanks to a combination of higher average wind speeds in 2013, increased power output from the turbine and also a wider energy-saving drive. The organisation has reduced its electricity use by 3% over the last 12 months, thanks to the introduction of efficiency measures including improved boilers and motion sensors on lights.

During the last 12 month period, the turbine has achieved an annual yield of 1,555 megawatt-hours (MWh) with average annual wind speeds of 5.87 metres per second.

Gus Christie, Executive Chairman of Glyndebourne Productions, said, ‘We’re absolutely delighted with the success of the wind turbine to date and the fact that these results have been achieved in years of below average wind speed bodes well for the ongoing success of the initiative.

‘As well as providing us with a source of renewable energy, the turbine acts as a permanent reminder of our commitment to reducing our environmental footprint and has helped drive forward an energy saving programme which has already resulted in a 3% reduction in our energy use. We will continue to find additional ways to further reduce our impact on the environment.’

The 2014 programme

The 2014 Glyndebourne Festival opens on 17 May with Richard Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier. Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin will run until July, followed by Mozart’s Don Giovanni and La finta giardiniera and Verdi’s La traviata. The festival will close on 24 August with Handel’s Rinaldo.

Alongside efforts to increase its energy efficiency, Glyndebourne is working to address other aspects of its environmental impact, such as waste disposal and staff and audience travel.

It monitors electricity generated in real-time and makes the information available on a monthly basis both via and on display boards at the site of the turbine.

For this year’s opera programme at Glyndebourne Festival, plus ticket information and details of its wider environmental commitments, visit

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