Bristol opens first community solar farm
The European Green Capital of the year, Bristol, has opened its first-ever community-owned solar farm.
The 1.8MW Moorhouse Solar Farm will deliver 1,780 MWh of renewable electricity into the grid each year – enough to power around 430 homes each year – and save 850 tonnes of CO2 a year.
The 1.8MW installation park was built by local company Solarsense and funded by Low Carbon Gordano, a co-operative whose purpose is to help the local community to reduce energy costs and become more sustainable.
The financing arrangement means that every community investor receives a return of 4% per annum. The scheme has been so successful that Low Carbon Gordano and Solarsense have already identified a second smaller site for another solar project
Mayor George Ferguson said, "It's wonderful that this solar park is happening right here in Bristol, because as you know, Bristol is the European Green Capital of the Year.
"The world is looking at what we are doing and later on we'll be setting up our own energy company. That gives a real sense of making sure everybody in Bristol will take part in our battle against climate change. But it's not just about climate change.
"What's absolutely great is that the emissions here are zero and that means we are cleaning up the air in our cities for our children.
"With this project, Low Carbon Gordano will inspire a lot of people to think a lot more about how we can harness the power of the sun in a much more practical way and I will do everything I can to encourage the new government in Westminster to support renewables and other alternative forms of energy."
Bristol's year as the Green Capital of Europe has been marked by the launch of its Go Green initiative, which aims to help businesses "do their bit" to make the Bristol city region become healthier, more competitive and more sustainable.
The opening of the solar park is also a landmark step for community-owned renewables, an area which various green groups, including Friends of the Earth and the Green Investment Banks have identified as a growth priority.
Before the opening of Britain's largest community-owned wind farm in Scotland last week, only half a gigawatt of energy in the UK was produced by community projects, compared to more than 25 GW in Germany.