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Growing local energy for all

Bristol Energy Co-operative

Being responsible for the equivalent of 33% of Bristol's solar generation, Bristol Energy Cooperative aims to develop renewable energy and energy efficiency projects for the benefit of the local community.

Bristol Energy Cooperative

Project overview



Energy/power type

Solar PV

Bristol Energy Co-Operative “aims to create a resilient, robust and organised community, who respond equitably to current and future energy challenges”. Bristol Energy Co-Operative aims to achieve these objectives by “enabling meaningful cuts in carbon emissions, by providing funding, implementing renewable energy and energy efficient measures and by working cooperatively with local people and communities to make carbon reduction technologies available to all”.

About the project

Bristol Energy Co-op (BEC) has developed solar projects across the city and surrounding areas. There are 16 Solar PV sites, including 14 rooftop installations and 2 larger ground-mounted projects. They have also rolled out the UK’s first-ever residential micro‐grid, connecting solar panels on houses to one shared battery.

Besides renewable energy production, BEC focuses on delivering green initiatives to the community. Since its founding in 2011, they have distributed over £350,000 in community benefit funds.

BEC’s recent project brings an exciting outlook for the future of community energy. Their cutting-edge micro-grid battery system at the new Water Lillies housing development connects solar panels on each house to one central battery. This enables each home to access sustainable energy as and when it is needed, as well as feed into or draw from the national grid when required. This UK first marks a significant step forward for community energy BEC have already announced their next micro‐grid to be rolled out in Bridgeport, Devon.

In fact, BEC is committed to doubling its renewable energy generation in the next two years. This expansion offers the potential for even further community engagement and BEC’s next step in bringing green energy to all.

Community benefits

Megawatt Community Energy Fund: BEC established this fund in 2017, and has contributed each year since to grants for local groups. In 2022, recipients included primary schools, a city farm, and village halls. Thanks to BEC, these community buildings received new energy-saving installations, such as LED lighting, and two received funding for their own solar panels and battery installations.

These grants are also used to deliver education. BEC contributed to the establishment of "Empowering Futures," an activity program for children with disabilities that educates them about the effects of global warming through activities like tree planting, gardening, cooking, and forestry. For adults, funding provided to "Re: Work" enabled the organisation to offer accessible training and advice to people living in fuel poverty, especially during times when energy bills were soaring.

ALW (Ambition Lawrence Weston): The revenue from BEC's solar farm in Lawrence Weston is shared with Ambition Lawrence Weston (ALW). This partnership, along with additional grants, allowed ALW to fund the construction of new housing and a new community and health hub in Lawrence Weston, a deprived area in North Bristol.

Future Energy Landscapes (Younity grant): Younity has recently awarded BEC a £3,500 grant. With this, they will assist in promoting and conducting "Future Energy Landscapes" sessions for communities in South Gloucestershire in partnership with the Centre for Sustainable Energy. These sessions will enable more local community groups to chart their paths toward a net-zero future.