Hamilton House was BEC’s first ever solar rooftop project, installed in July 2011. 10 years on, we visited this thriving community hub in the heart of Stokes Croft to review the impact of the solar.
Bristol’s largest rooftop array, in its time
At the time of the installation, Hamilton House had the largest roof-mounted solar array in Bristol. Over 150 solar panels sit on the rooftop, totalling 42kW of power. Bristol Energy Coop installed roughly half of these, with Bristol Power Coop covering the rest.
Over 10 years, the building has generated over 300MWh of electricity, with BEC panels producing around 17MWh per year. The generation is more than predicted, and we expect them to carry on running for at least another 10 years.
Hamilton House was installed back when there was a Feed In Tariff. This enabled Bristol Energy Coop to offer free electricity to the occupants of the building for any energy that they used coming from the panels.
Based on the predicated usage rates, it’s estimated that Hamilton House saves around £6000 on energy bills every year thanks to their solar array. With the current energy crisis bills are set to rise in the coming months and years, so the savings will only become more important.
For community hubs like Hamilton House, money saved on energy bills means they can invest it into their services.
From the street and within the building, you have no idea that solar panels cover the large roof.
The majority of the solar energy is used inside the busy building. Hamilton House is a hive of creative businesses and social enterprises with artist studios, co-working spaces, events and meeting rooms. At the front of the building is The Canteen, a café and bar famous for its lively gigs and delicious food. The creative arts has never looked so green!
The only downside to the solar panels is that they are invisible to those in the building, and most people are unaware that the space is powered by the sun. In the coming months we hope to tackle this by working with Forward Space, who manage the building, to better communicate about the green credentials of the site.
From up on the roof, you get a sense of the potential that our city rooftops can have for generating energy. We are looking to tap into that opportunity across Bristol through our rooftop solar installations. Schools, community centres and commercial buildings that are deemed suitable for solar panels can benefit enormously from renewable generation, helping to bring down bills and carbon.
If you know of a rooftop calling out for panels, then take a look at our suitability checklist and get in touch.