If you had informed Arthur Scargill that solar panels were to be fitted to a building connected with the coal mining industry twenty eight years ago, at the height of the national miner’s strike, the former leader of the National Union of Mineworkers would have, at very least, probably laughed at you.
Well, that is exactly what has happened and there has yet to be a mutter of indignation from Mr. Scargill.
Wales’ National Coal Mining Museum located at Big Pit, Blaenavon, Nr Abergavenny in south Wales, now has 200 photovoltaic solar panels erected on the Big Pit museum’s roof with another 200 solar panels installed on the National Collection Centre in Nantgarw.
The Big Pit was one of several collieries in the area in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries providing employment for hundreds. The shaft at the pit was 300 feet deep with it gaining its name due to the particularly large elliptical shaft. Big Pit closed in February 1980 at which time it employed 250 people. By 1983, after extensive development, it re-opened as a museum.
Since that time, the National Coal Mining Museum has seen well over 3 million visitors pass through its gates and it is now a World Heritage site. It is estimated that the solar panels will offset about £400,000 during the next 25 years. The cost about £70,000 to install the panels, which was funded by the museum. The electricity generated will be used on site with any surplus being sold to the National Grid, which can produce additional income for the museum.
“Coal is such an important part of Wales’ heritage and yet green energy will play a major part in its future. A solar powered coal-mining museum is a fantastic way to celebrate this national journey,” said Peter Walker, Museum Manager of Big Pit. “But it’s far from just symbolic — the museum will benefit from huge reductions in energy bills and a solid return from the feed-in tariff.”
What will Arthur Scargill think and say when he next visits the National Coal Mining Museum?