In addition to re-hauling the electricity, replacing the gas lines and fitting in new water pipes, most of which have not been touched since they were first installed in the 1950s, there will also be a number of additional features installed in order to reduce the Palace’s running costs and bring it more into line with current domestic infrastructure.
The Palace itself is an economic nightmare, with its outdated utilities and poorly maintained structure resulting in utility bills millions of pounds higher than they should be — in 2013, the bill amounted to £3.1 million for energy alone. And this was despite many efforts made by the Palace in the past to try and make the building more energy efficient, such as the tried use of energy-saving LED lights.
It is hoped that by replacing older wires and pipes, the Palace may be able to cut back dramatically on energy costs, as well as provide extra revenue by being able to extend opening hours and dates to the public. Further, those heading renovation efforts hope that planning permission will also be granted for the addition of solar panels on the Palace’s roof.
Details of intended projects for the Palace’s refit included a reference to investigating “various ways to provide the Palace with electricity from alternative sources to supplement the present mains power”, something that would undoubtedly please His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales (a noted environmentalist before it was considered normal). This would go a long way to make Britain’s least energy efficient building a little more self-sufficient.
While solar panels would not cover all of the Palace’s electricity requirements — initially they are expected only to cover as little as 5%, with a protracted growth to 10% — they would certainly be an asset. An anaerobic digestion unit, which sounds very Prince Charles-ish, was also suggested as an alternative energy source.
In total, the renovations are expected to cost around £369 million ($459 million), with the majority of the costs being covered by the Sovereign Grant. For the duration of the renovations, The Queen has diverted 10% of her usual voluntary income tax (85%) towards the costs of refurbishment.