Council’s support for community energy projects lauded at national awards.

Bristol City Council’s backing for projects that help the city achieve its carbon neutral targets has been recognised nationally at the Community Energy Awards 2019.

The council received the Local Authority of the Year Award at a ceremony at London City Hall last week for its work supporting local energy schemes that are contributing towards Bristol’s zero carbon ambitions.

Among programmes to receive council help are around five megawatts (MW) of community-owned solar panels on public buildings and land and investing in Bristol Energy Co-operative’s community-owned solar farm in Lawrence Weston, which is on council land.

In 2015, the council secured initial funding from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) towards the launch of Bristol Community Energy Fund, providing grant and loan funding to small energy projects across the city.

Councillor Kye Dudd, Bristol’s Cabinet Member for Energy, Transport and the Green New Deal said: “We’re delighted to have won this award and be recognised for work we do to support community energy groups in the city.

“We’re very proud to be able to work collaboratively with amazing volunteers and communities; together we’re making Bristol a cleaner, greener and healthier city. Sharing our experiences with other councils and community groups across the UK is just one way we can play our part and help deliver a zero carbon future.”

Bristol’s Community Energy Fund has delivered £450,000 of funds to more than 50 community energy projects, including small-scale renewables, behaviour change campaigns and skills programmes. Successful grant applications include the funding of solar panels to support a mobile sensory environment for children with disabilities, a solar panel making workshop for young people and feasibility studies for a hydro-electricity station at Netham Weir.

The awards, organised by Community Energy in England and Wales and sponsored by Co-op Community Energy and the Greater London Authority, celebrate the most innovative and ground-breaking projects in the community energy sector.

While working to create a cleaner, greener energy system focussed on people over profit, community projects pay back investor shareholders, also using surplus profit to create funds to help deliver energy efficiency schemes for local homes and biodiversity projects.

Caroline Bird, Chair of Bristol Energy Network, said: “Bristol City Council is committed to working with communities across the city to address energy issues.

“Despite central government support in this area being virtually non-existent, the council team has continued to work with Bristol Energy Network and our diverse community energy groups, investing financially when they can, but also by supporting community groups to navigate planning and policy, and identifying public buildings and land as suitable sites for renewable energy generation schemes.

“Importantly, they are always open to listening to the community and working with them to maximise benefits and they are keen to share their learning and show other councils what can be achieved. It’s brilliant their commitment has been recognised with this award and community energy groups look forward to more successful joint projects in the future to help us make Bristol a zero carbon city.”