Rooftop solar PV
FOR BUILDING USERS
Do you have a roof space that’s calling out for some solar panels?
We offer free solar PV for businesses, schools and community organisations across Bristol.
Which roofs are suitable?
- Flat or facing west/south/east
- Not in need of imminent repair
- Preferably at least 200 m2 unshaded area (we can check this for you)
If you think your roof may be suitable, please get in touch.
How does it work?
- Feasibility checks – we’ll assess the site and send you a proposal
- Studies & consents – we’ll sort out the structural survey, grid application and planning approvals
- Installation & commissioning – we’ll cover all installation costs
- Generation begins! We take care of O&M and sell electricity to you at a reduced rate
We even offer a buy-back option, allowing you to purchase the system outright after three or more years. So if you later decide to take ownership of the system, you can do so at a fair price.
Why choose Bristol Energy Cooperative?
BEC is a not-for-profit organisation and we rely upon building good relationships with businesses and communities. For this reason, we will always be open, fair and provide an excellent service, both during development and during operation.
This means we will:
- Share details of our financial modelling with you
- Always use reputable contractors, whilst remaining independent and impartial
- Provide testimonials (all of our partner organisations are happy with their installations!)
Our team may be small, but we are highly experienced and capable. Since we started in 2011, we have delivered:
- Rooftop PV installations across the city (13 so far)
- Meaningful community benefits – over £300,000 facilitated to date
- Bringing over 9 MWp of renewable energy assets into community ownership
- Community share and bond raises totalling more than £7 million
To register your interest, please get in touch.
Overcoming the obstacles to community-scale PV
Over the last ten years, we’ve learnt how to overcome the various challenges that building users face when looking to install solar:
Time & hassle
Your core activities will always be the priority, which means it can be tricky to find time to develop a solar project. We take care of almost everything and will make the process easy and hassle-free.
Short of capital
Many organisations want to install solar PV but can’t afford the capital expenditure right now. Our community-owned model allows us to offer free solar PV, whilst still reducing your electricity bills by around 10%. We also give you the option to buy the system back from us, at a fair price after three years, so you can install now and decide later whether you want to own the panels outright.
Rooftop PV has a payback period of 10-15 years, which is difficult to justify for most organisations. As a community group, we are able to take a long-term view on financial payback, which also allows us to maximise the size of installation: we will aim to fill all of the available roof space.
Most building users have a leasehold and therefore would need consent from the freeholder in order to install solar panels. We are experienced with this and will provide information to help things along. In most cases it is very straightforward. For sites with a lease from Bristol City Council, we have a long-standing relationship with the council which can help to achieve a quick approval.
Predicting electricity demand 10 or 20 years in the future is near-impossible. We take on this risk, so your organisation will only be charged for electricity that is actually used.
All roofs need repair from time to time and our Lease will make provisions for this. If you know that roof repairs are needed imminently, it makes more sense to do those first. But given the climate emergency, we are keen to get our new solar installations generating as soon as possible.
We will commission a structural survey to check the roof is suitable for the panels. Most roofs do not encounter any issues, however certain roof types are better than others (a trapezoidal steel roof is ideal).
Solar PV sometimes requires planning permission, especially for listed buildings or in conservation areas. But in most cases, solar PV will fall under permitted development. We will obtain the necessary consents as part of our service.
To discuss your site with us, please send us an enquiry.
The need for community-scale PV in Bristol
As shown by the Centre for Sustainable Energy, rooftops across Bristol have the potential for 500 MW of financially-viable solar PV, but only around 30 MW has been installed so far. That’s only 6%!
Now more than ever, businesses and individuals across Bristol are making commitments to take rapid, meaningful action on climate change. The transition to Net Zero will need to involve all sorts of innovative approaches and technologies. But we mustn’t overlook the simple, tried-and-tested solutions such as solar PV – let’s turn that 6% into 96%.
And at the grassroots level, there are so many brilliant and creative sustainability projects being developed by local groups…but they are often desperately short of funding. Our renewable energy installations enable us to provide grants, research funds and direct cost savings to community organisations – find out more here.