This week we celebrate the start of construction of our new solar farm in Lawrence Weston with the newly elected Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, and regeneration project Ambition Lawrence Weston. The 4.2 MWp solar farm will bring significant, long-term benefits to the city and Lawrence Weston, where the new Mayor grew up.
Lying on the eastern edge of Avonmouth (at the junction of the M5 and M49 motorways), the site will be transformed into a solar farm generating enough electricity to power 1,000 average homes each year. The solar farm will be built by Solarcentury, one of the oldest solar companies in the world and it is responsible for a number of other community level solar projects in England.
Site surveys revealed three WW2-era incendiary munitions among around 3,500 ferrous objects, which have now been removed, paving the way for the new development.
The site’s development follows the announcement last month that we had raised £9 million since November for our solar projects. This includes £3.95 million of funding from Bristol City Council, Triodos Bank and Social and Sustainable Capital. Upon the completion of this solar farm at Lawrence Weston in June 2016, we will be the UK’s largest generator of community energy.
Can you help us install solar panels across Bristol?
We’re now calling on local people to help raise the remaining funds required to install solar panels on community roofs across the Bristol region. The sites include Headley Park, Coniston Community Centre, St Paul’s Church Bedminster, Wick Sports Ground and The Architecture Centre.
The solar panels will help the community buildings reduce their electricity bills and use the money saved on other things at a time when funding is at a premium. We have already installed solar panels on a number of buildings across the city including Easton Community Centre, which saved 50% on its energy bills alongside other energy saving measures.
Profits from our energy generation will be used to fund £4 million of social projects across Greater Bristol and Somerset over the 25 years of the projects, for example fighting energy poverty or increasing households’ energy efficiency.
How to get involved
We have two crowdfunding offers currently open for public investment to help make these community solar projects happen:
– a 2-year fixed-term bond offer which offers up to 6% pa returns on investments over £500 made before 6 June.
– a share offer which offers up to 5% pa returns on investments between £50 and £100,000 made before 31 May.
Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees said:
“This is a proud moment for Bristol as BEC continues to help put our city on the map as a leader in the renewable energy revolution. When construction is finished in June, BEC becomes the largest community energy company in the UK by generating capacity – an amazing achievement. We are lucky to have such active and successful community partners in the city that will play an invaluable role in our journey to becoming carbon neutral by 2050.
“At the local level, this new solar farm will offer long-term benefits to the local economy and residents of Lawrence Weston, and I hope Bristolians will continue to get involved with BEC’s fund-raise to bring even more clean energy to the city. I grew up here, so I’m really pleased to see a disused site like this get a new lease of life and create opportunities for local people in the community.”
Andy O’Brien, co-director, said:
“We’d like to thank everyone who has invested in our solar projects so far. These investments have allowed us to reach this exciting moment in the development of our solar portfolio. This is another significant step in our mission to generate clean energy locally and make the benefits available to all.
“As momentum grows in our crowdfunding campaign, we encourage Bristolians to back our fund-raise and help us install solar panels on community roofs across Greater Bristol. Investment will bring financial returns with higher projected rates than the average bank or building society, as well as further long-term benefits to the city, community and the environment.”
Mark Pepper, Development Manager, Ambition Lawrence Weston said:
“The new solar farm is an inspiring symbol of Ambition Lawrence Weston’s plans to regenerate the local area and improve the lives of the residents through our ten year plan. It is exciting that this is happening right on our doorstep and that under-used ground is being transformed and put to good use for the benefit of the community.”