Bristol’s solar revolution continues with innovative stadium PV partnership

Bristol Sport's Ashton Gate Stadium, home to Bristol Football Club and Bristol Rugby, has partnered with Bristol City Council to install solar PV panels on one of its stands as part of a major refurbishment of the ground.

The 460-panel system, installed on the stadium’s West Stand, will provide 117kW of energy for the sports venue, generating more than 95,000kWh of energy a year. It is expected to reduce the stadium’s carbon emissions by 20%, cutting the energy bill by £150,000 over a 20-year period.

The installation was made possible through a partnership between Bristol City Council and Bristol Sport – the stadium’s owner – as part of a bold pledge by the former European Green Capital to be running entirely on clean energy by 2050.

“We’ve worked hard to design, build and operate a socially responsible venue for the city,” said Bristol Sport chairman Martin Griffiths. “As well as being home to the two largest sports teams in the area, we also host numerous conferences and events every day. The installation of Solar PV helps ensure we’re being environmentally friendly while also cutting down on operating costs.”

Symbiotic sustainability

This installation represents a new model for mutually beneficial renewable energy projects in Bristol. The City Council first determines whether a business has a suitable roof for solar, then pays for and project manages the PV installation, and receives subsidies through the feed-in tariff.  

Meanwhile, the business pays a reduced rate to the Council for the electricity used on site from the system, lowering bills, reducing emissions and boosting the area’s green credentials.

Helen Holland, Cabinet Member for Place with responsibility for energy, said: “One of the Mayor’s campaign promises was to put Bristol on course to run entirely on clean energy by 2050. The City Council can’t achieve this by ourselves, so working with partners like Bristol Sport is going to be essential if we’re going to hit our goal.

“Ashton Gate is such an important venue for football and rugby fans in Bristol. Working with Bristol Sport during their amazing transformation of the stadium sends a really strong message that it makes commercial sense for high energy consuming businesses to install renewables onsite, and Bristol City Council can help with that.”

Green grounds

Ashton Gate also benefits from a number of other sustainability solutions focused on cutting energy costs. The ground is now fitted with an air-to-air heat recovery system, low-energy lighting, automated controls, low water consumption taps and toilets, heat-pumps and a Building Management System.

It is the latest in a line of sports venues that have turned to on-site solutions to mitigate their environmental impact. Other recent examples include Hampden Park, St Mary’s and Wimbledon stadium installing features such as LED lighting, water tracking systems and smart energy solutions. (For more examples of green sports grounds, check out edie’s guide to the world’s most sustainable stadiums).

The Ashton Gate solar PV array was installed by Evoenergy, the Nottinghamshire-based firm which also recently confirmed it is installing a rooftop system on London’s South Bank Tower.

Alex Baldwin & Luke Nicholls

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