New Bristol Mayor digs in as BEC’s latest community energy solar array build begins


Site’s 4.2MWp capacity will make BEC UK’s largest community energy company

Thursday saw construction start at Bristol Energy Cooperative’s new community energy solar array, in Lawrence Weston near Bristol. Once complete, the new site will add 4.2MWp to BEC’s portfolio, making it the largest community energy benefit society by generation capacity.

The city’s new Mayor, Marvin Rees, made time to get the build underway, saying: “BEC puts our city on the map as a leader in the renewable energy revolution and helps us on the journey to meet zero carbon targets by 2050… At the local level, this new solar farm will offer long-term benefits to the local economy and residents of Lawrence Weston, and I hope Bristolians will continue to get involved with BEC’s fund-raise to bring even more clean energy to the city.”

group shot mayor BEC

The construction converts the disused site into a solar array that will generate enough clean electricity to meet the needs of c.1,000 average UK homes. The construction follows several months of clean up with three World War II incendiary munitions found on the site among roughly 3,500 ferrous objects.

Since November, BEC had raised £9.4 million to deliver over 9MW of solar community energy generation capacity to the UK’s grid. The benefit society has over £6.6m of financing from Triodos Bank, Close Brothers Bank, Social and Sustainable Capital and Bristol City Council. And £2.8m from individual investors through its bond and share offers, which are still open for investment.

BEC currently is running a  two-year fixed-term bond offer – which offers up to 6% pa returns – and a share offer –  which offers up to 5% pa returns.

All investments are available exclusively through the ethical savings and investment company, Ethex.

Profits from BEC’s energy generation will be used to fund £4 million of social projects across Greater Bristol and Somerset over the 25 years of the projects, for example fighting energy poverty or increasing households’ energy efficiency.

Together the bond offer and share offer will fund a portfolio of solar projects:

  • a 500kWp programme of solar roof installations
  • an already-built 4.568MWp solar farm near Puriton, Somerset, located next to the M5.
  • a 4.2MWp solar farm on the eastern edge of Avonmouth near Lawrence Weston, at the junction of the M5 and M49 motorways

Altogether these installations will provide 9,268 kWp of solar PV capacity, generating an average of 9,300 MWh of electricity each year. This is enough to power 2,270 average UK homes and save more than 100,000 tonnes of CO2 over the 25-year lifetime of the programme.

To find out more about this project visit the Bristol Energy Cooperative website.

To find out more about other open projects from Mongoose’s partner benefit societies across the UK visit our open community energy share and bond offers page.