2023 promises to be a big year for Bristol Energy Cooperative as we look to accelerate our project development and community engagement.
Last year ended busily too – we were chuffed to complete our 1MW PV install at the Bottleyard film studios’ TBY2 just before Christmas.
Next up is the solar PV install at the Bristol Beacon, which kicks off in February. Our two microgrid projects are also nearing completion – excitingly, some residents have already moved in.
Whilst pressing pause on the Netham hydro project was frustrating, we’ve been working on many other schemes for quite some time. Last year we took on additional project development staff, and this has helped us advance a number of new schemes. It also helped us win a significant grant to put more solar on the roofs of smaller buildings. On top of that we’ve entered into exclusivity with a project developer to invest in a battery project that will dramatically reduce carbon emissions – more details to follow soon.
All this means we’re on the hunt for additional funds, and we’re on track to launch our next share offer in March.
We’re also delighted to be increasing our community engagement activities this year. As Covid recedes you can expect a return to more in-person events.
Community energy’s great power is that it gives people agency. Rather than drift into despair about the climate crisis, we can contribute to real change in our local community. However, our sector is still something of a hidden gem because government support for it has been woefully poor over the last few years. This really matters because many people (including the govt’s own Climate Change Committee) are flagging up that:
Community energy is perfectly placed to help with this engagement. BEC will push this message out again this year and, with our colleagues, continue to lobby for better government support.
Last year we continued to drive forward Zero West, which works to accelerate the zero-carbon transition in the West of England region. A key aim is to bring people and large-scale funding together at a regional level. This is particularly relevant to energy efficiency, and we’re making good progress on advancing an integrated funding approach for this with commercial investors (businesses), institutional investors (eg, pension funds), and impact investors (purpose-led investment). Look out for more on this in the coming months!
Bristol City Leap
For over 3 years Bristol City Council has been working on City Leap – a ground-breaking procurement project to find a joint venture partner to help make Bristol carbon neutral and climate resilient by 2030. The goal was to bring in £1 billion of investment along with significant technical expertise. The winning bidder is Ameresco, with the final contracts signed in early 2023.
City Leap is going to be transformational, and from the outset the Council committed to embedding support for community energy into the final contract. To help achieve this BEC and Zero West have been part of a community contact group which advised the short-listed bidders on how best to incorporate this support in their submissions. We’re pleased to see those suggestions feature strongly in the final contract.
A huge amount of detailed planning has gone into City Leap thus far, and we look forward to hitting the ground running with the City Leap team as they begin to kick off their projects.
No time to waste
We know how urgent the climate crisis is, and we’re confident Bristol Energy Cooperative can provide inspiration and thought leadership, as well as practical solutions. We’re incredibly grateful as ever for your continuing support. It’s going to be an exciting 2023!