Bristol Energy Cooperative crowned community benefit winner at Solar Power Portal and Clean Energy Awards

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Bristol Energy Cooperative (BEC) celebrates winning the Community Benefit Project Award at the Solar Power Portal and Clean Energy Awards last night (5 October) hosted by comedian Jimmy Carr. This esteemed award is recognition of the outstanding achievement of BEC’s recent successful £10m fund-raise for an ambitious portfolio of solar projects with social, environmental and economic benefits for the community.

●        Bristol Energy Cooperative (BEC) wins the Community Benefit Project Award at the Solar Power Portal and Clean Energy Awards

●        Andy O’Brien, BEC co-director, received the award at a gala event hosted by comedian Jimmy Carr, which recognises the benefits BEC brings to the community.

●        BEC won the award for its successful £10m solar fund-raise for an ambitious portfolio of solar projects in Bristol and Somerset.

●        These projects bring economic, environmental and social benefits to the community, including a projected £4m community fund.

In its fourth consecutive year, the Solar Power Portal Awards has evolved to include the Clean Energy Awards as it celebrates the successes in the sector over the last 12 months. The shortlist for Community Benefit Project included three other worthy projects showing the vibrancy of clean energy: WPD – Sola Bristol community energy storage project, Green Fox – Hinckley Academy and Energy Guru – SharperSun Industrial Process Heating.

Andy O’Brien, BEC co-director said:

“After working tirelessly on our solar fund-raise campaign since November last year, it was a proud moment for BEC to achieve recognition at this prestigious awards ceremony, especially among this shortlist of admirable community projects. We are committed to long-term, sustainable renewable energy generation which makes the benefits available to all, and look forward to building on our recent expansion.”

“The BEC Directors and team would like to thank our partners and growing community of investors for their support. Together we are demonstrating that community energy is a viable option with its significant financial, social and environmental benefits.”

BEC has grown rapidly over the last year, becoming in May the UK’s largest community energy company by capacity. It has set up an enabling infrastructure for individuals, community groups and businesses to easily become involved in the transition to sustainable energy.

Since November 2015, BEC has raised funds for local solar energy expansion: a 150kWp programme of solar roof installations on community buildings, a 4.568MWp solar farm near Puriton, Somerset and a 4.2MWp solar farm on the eastern edge of Avonmouth near Lawrence Weston in Bristol.

The income generated from BEC’s current projects is projected to secure £4 million for a community fund over the 25 years of the projects. So for example, through BEC’s Lawrence Weston Community Solar Farm, a grant of circa £150,000 is being paid to Ambition Lawrence Weston, a regeneration initiative, to help them meet their 10 year strategy to improve the lives of their community and local economy. BEC aims to replicate this partnership working in other local areas.

The community also benefits from the installation of the solar panels on community buildings in Bristol’s inner city. Solar panels were installed by BEC in 2012 on Easton Community Centre, and the resultant reduction in energy bills was so positive, that they installed more panels this year. The Centre saved 50% of their energy bills, along with other initiatives; in 2011, they spent c. £14,700 and in 2014, this was reduced to c. £6,900.

BEC has also been nominated for Regen SW Awards for Best Renewable Energy Scheme and Social Entreprise UK Awards with Social & Sustainable Capital for Social Investment Deal of the Year.