How your 2016 donations are generating clean energy in Bristol

With Bristol a true festival city, it’s fitting that last year’s Energy Revolution audience donations have been invested with Bristol Energy Co-op. A huge thank you to all the festivals, suppliers and audiences who balanced over a million festival miles in 2016 by donating to Energy Revolution.

A year on and those donations are now generating clean energy with Bristol Energy Co-op (BEC). We sat down with BEC Co-Director, Andy O’Brien, to find out how the festival miles you balanced, are making a real difference to renewable energy production in the Bristol area.

Andy, how are BEC using Energy Revolution’s investment?

We’re using it to develop Greater Bristol’s local green energy supply and making the benefits available to all by funding solar panels on community roofs across Bristol and two solar farms – one in Somerset and the other in Lawrence Weston.

How much clean renewable energy does BEC produce annually?

Bristol Energy Cooperative’s annual electricity output is currently 9,105 MWh (Megawatt Hours). That’s enough to power 2,220 average homes. Of this 214 MWh are coming from our rooftop solar sites, 4,572 MWh are coming from our solar farm in Somerset, and 4,319 MWh from our solar farm in Lawrence Weston.

What happens to the electricity generated by BEC projects?

The energy from the solar farms goes to the grid, while the energy from the roofs is used to power the buildings with any surplus going on to the grid. The money saved on electricity bills is invested in the community as it is put to good use by the organisations involved.

For instance, Julian Weston, Finance Manager of Easton Community Centre said, ‘The solar panels plus other initiatives we have taken have reduced our energy costs by a factor of 50%. We think it’s a fantastic project because that saving, not only is it green and kind to the environment, it’s enabling us to use that money on other things around the centre.’

See the clean renewable energy being generated at Easton Community Centre and BEC’s other projects at the livegen website.

It’s hot and sunny in Bristol today but how reliable is solar when it’s not so sunny?

Harnessing power from solar PV is possible anywhere in the world. Although we don’t think of the UK as a particularly sunny place to live, the sun actually radiates enormous amounts of energy on the British Isles – as much as 60% of that of the equator. It may also be surprising to learn that cold bright weather helps solar panels operate more efficiently; the electricity can flow more freely through the cells thanks to a reduced resistance in its conductors.

Solar energy is already a record-breaker in 2017 – at times last May, solar power in the UK provided nearly a quarter of our electricity needs. Read more in this useful article from Bristol Energy Cooperative’s partners, Mongoose Energy.

What’s next for Bristol Energy Co-op?

BEC’s energy revolution continues. We’re planning to raise more money to invest in our solar roof projects and community solar farms through a Bond ISA with our partners Mongoose Energy.

In addition, we have now proven that we can generate community investment in order to contribute to our goal of reducing damaging carbon emissions. So as well as our work to clean up energy, we’re keen to investigate heating projects or community-funded transport.

You can keep up to date with our latest plans by signing up to Bristol Energy Coop’s newsletter.

Balance your travel with Energy Revolution before you start soaking up the sun’s rays at your favourite festival this summer . . . and then relax knowing those rays are also helping power the energy revolution.