Bristol City Council has added a new solar farm to its existing wind turbine site in Avonmouth. Together, the site could generate enough clean energy to power over 4,000 homes and is expected to save over 7,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide from being emitted. This represents a milestone in Bristol’s ongoing climate and energy ambitions beyond Bristol as European Green Capital 2015.
The council’s most recent climate and energy strategy committed to citywide CO2 reductions of 40% by 2020, 50% by 2025, 60% by 2035 and 80% by 2050. Now the city is looking at the possibility of decarbonising by 2050.
“As I said at the COP21 climate talks in Paris, we have the lowest per capita carbon emissions of all large UK cities, and, following on our success as European Green Capital we are now stepping up our ambitions, committing to becoming a carbon neutral city by 2050. Taking steps like this brings us closer to meeting that ambition.
“With these 7,000 solar panels we’ll more than double our existing capacity, adding to the 6,500 which the council has helped put around the city to date.”
The new solar farm has 1.8 MW capacity and is expected to generate 1.85 GWh annually. Renewable energy companies Benu Energy and Ikaros Solar designed and built the farm, completing it in December 2015, in time for the council to benefit from the pre-accredited feed-in-tariffs.
Mayor Ferguson added: “Bristol City Council is determined to find ways to become more resilient while upping its environmental sustainability. The solar farm is a great example of this. This is win win, with clean electricity being fed back into the local network where it’s being used by homes and businesses, while the feed-in tariffs should generate enough income to fully repay the £1.9 million investment by 2030.”
Daniella Radice, Assistant Mayor for Neighbourhoods with a responsibility for Environment, said: “Bristol has made excellent progress with its low carbon agenda and has been able to get numerous renewable energy programmes off the ground. We’re really pleased to have completed our very own solar farm within Bristol’s year as European Green Capital. What’s more, the solar farm and wind turbines have been built on the old oil depot site, which is a great use of brownfield land.”
James Bracegirdle, Managing Director for Benu Energy, said: “We were absolutely delighted to be selected by Bristol City Council to build the solar farm. The success of the project is a great advert for what can be done on a brownfield site – turning redundant land into a generation station to help reduce carbon emissions and protect the environment for the future”.
Bristol City Council is also helping to increase the number of solar panels throughout the city’s council-owned buildings. Some of these projects have been in partnership with community energy groups. During 2015 alone, an extra 1MW of solar panels were installed under this programme, enough to power around 220 homes annually.
Major efficiency refurbishments are also underway or set for completion in 2016, including City Hall, Central Library, St Nicks Market and the M Shed.