Bristol City Council becomes first UK local authority to develop and own wind turbines

Bristol City Council has invested in developing its own wind energy projects and is reaping the benefits.

Commended in the 2degrees Champions Awards 2014

Bristol City Council is the first local authority in the UK to develop and own wind turbines, and this has made the community proud to be involved in such a ground-breaking scheme. One resident described it as ‘putting Bristol on the map' in terms of sustainable energy. This project is about producing green electricity and reducing the city's carbon footprint. With a combined capacity of 5 MW in Avonmouth the wind turbine development demonstrates: good use of council owned land; is a flagship development - setting a good example; promotes a sustainable energy future for Bristol and its communities; and provides a meaningful contribution to the city council's targets for installed capacity. For these reasons it is a good project for Avonmouth, an industrial area in the City of Bristol, generating green energy in an industrialised setting.

What did you do?

There were a number of barriers to overcome. For example, Councils applying to their own planning committee for permission must be prepared for every kind of challenge because they cannot appeal the decision. The Environmental Statement therefore had to be extremely detailed because it could not be tweaked later if rejected. It took three years to get from the original EIA to submitting the planning application. The biggest objection to the project was from Natural England. The council worked very closely with this statutory body to make sure all of their monitoring requirements were met, and specialists were employed to study potential effects. A dedicated council communications team were involved to engage and inform the community at an early stage. An online survey conducted resulted in 255 respondents, with 253 in favour of the development.

What was the result?

The two 2.5MW wind turbines are predicted to generate 14.4 gigawatthours (GWh) annually. It is estimated that the turbines will make over £1 million each year from Feed-In Tariff (FITs), Levy Exemption Certificates and selling the electricity. Bristol City Council wants to meet national and local carbon reduction targets. This development will also reduce the Council’s reliance on uncertain energy markets. The recent Government decision to permit local authorities to sell renewable electricity is a massive opportunity, both financial and environmental, in giving the chance to build a strong and secure local production capacity that will help to protect the local authority and their taxpayers from future energy crises, as well as making a useful contribution to renewables on a national scale. It also makes good financial sense too, creating a lucrative new income stream that can be used to finance other energy or environmental projects.

The personal pitch

Dedication, commitment to see the project through. The project has presented a number of challenges and each one has had to be overcome.

Which suppliers, solutions, contractors or consultants helped to make the project a success?

Simon Pitchers of Craddy Pitchers Davidson during the design and build phase undertaken by Alun Griffiths Contractors. Wind Prospect during the contract negotiation with the turbine supplier (Adelino Ferreira and Fraser Ibbotson). Richard Thompson of PMSS during the commissioning and testing phase of the turbines.

This article forms Bristol City Council’s submission into the Energy and Carbon Management – long term category of the 2degrees Champions Awards 2014. It was written and submitted by Indira Norton, Energy Management Officer, Bristol City Council.

For more information

Bristol City Council


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