'Once green capital, always green capital': Bristol unveils new sustainability ambitions

The city of Bristol has announced a flurry of sustainability initiatives as it looks to maintain the positive momentum it built last year as the European Green Capital.

The largest project announced this week saw Bristol City Council add a new 7,000-panel solar farm to its existing wind turbine site in Avonmouth

The largest project announced this week saw Bristol City Council add a new 7,000-panel solar farm to its existing wind turbine site in Avonmouth

Three new schemes, all announced on Friday (4 February), include new solar capacity, £10,000 loans for sustainable energy projects, and energy efficiency upgrades for city buildings.

The initiatives form part of Bristol’s plan to be a completely carbon-neutral city by 2050. Along the way, the city also has a target to reduce emissions by 50% between 2005 and 2025.

Bristol Mayor George Ferguson told edie: “Our new strapline is: ‘It doesn’t stop here – once green capital, always green capital'. This transition is absolutely essential for Bristol’s entire economy, it will create thousands of jobs”.

The largest project announced this week saw Bristol City Council add a new 7,000-panel solar farm to its existing wind turbine site in Avonmouth. The ‘hybrid’ project could generate enough clean energy to power over 4,000 homes and is expected to save over 7,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide from being emitted.

“This is win-win,” said Ferguson. “We'll see clean electricity being fed back into the local network where it’s being used by homes and businesses, while the Feed-in Tariffs (FiTs) should generate enough income to fully repay the £1.9m investment by 2030.”

Local impact

Bristol Council also last week announced the availability of loans of up to £10,000 for community energy groups. The funds are designed to help local people reduce energy use and switch to renewable energy sources.

Ferguson said: “Despite the challenge presented by the national withdrawal of tax reliefs and FiTs, we are continuing to find new ways to support community energy initiatives, making it interesting and possible for local grassroots projects to flourish across the city.”

The third of Bristol's new sustainability projects comes in the form of an energy efficiency upgrade for the city’s M Shed museum, housed inside a 1950's dockside transit shed. The project is costing approximately £100,000 but is expected to save up to £27,000 on energy bills annually.

New windows designed to provide natural ventilation and better heat regulation will replace 15% of the building’s large windows. The installation is happening alongside upgrades to the building management system which will link the windows, heating controls and humidity sensors for more efficient atmospheric regulation in the building.

Further green refurbishments are planned across Bristol for 2016, with City Hall being one of the most ambitious projects. Bristol’s most recognisable administrative building is being fitted with LED lights, a new boiler and heating controls, and will be connected to the city’s new heat network.

Lone wolf?

The funding for these various projects has come from local government, the European Union and private investors who are attracted to Bristol’s reputation as a leading sustainable city, Ferguson said.

However, he agreed that Bristol would not achieve its zero-carbon target without Government help.

“What was clear at from my time at COP21, is that cities are going to very important in cutting emissions, but they will need help from central governments,” Ferguson said.

“I can’t put up a barrier around the city. I can’t ban diesel or petrol cars from coming into Bristol, for example. We need a holistic national approach.”

Brad Allen


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