Local authorities learn from Bristol’s community energy example

Bristol City Council last month welcomed local authorities from across the UK wanting to learn how to kick-start community energy in their cities. The council’s showcase event shared tools, techniques and tips from the city’s and the country’s top community energy experts.

Local authorities face a future of austerity and budget cuts but still have ambitious carbon targets to meet. Community energy can help address both of these challenges, whilst supporting our communities to take ownership of energy.

By putting renewable energy technologies on community buildings or financing and running solar farms, Bristol’s communities are benefitting from reduced energy prices and using profits to support other community initiatives.

Bristol City Council has a lot of experience in the area of energy and is offering expert advice to others.

Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees said: “Bristol City Council is one of the leading local authorities supporting community energy. Our approach is still being developed, tried and tested to get even better results, but it already has the potential to become a model of best practice nationally. We can really see the benefits for our communities and for the city, so it’s only right that we spread the word.”

Bristol’s energy successes are the result of real partnership working with communities across the city. The wealth of local organisations in Bristol plays an invaluable role in developing bespoke initiatives that really deliver on the specific needs of the individual communities.

The event was attended by more than 30 local authorities across the country, including from Devon and Southampton. All those attending left with a pack of ideas and considerations for starting their own community energy movement back home.

Jane Altouyan from Southampton City Council, said: “I found the Bristol Community Energy Showcase a very inspiring day and have taken away several ideas, along with guidance, for where I can find further information about potential future projects.

“Bristol City Council has demonstrated that local authorities joining forces with their community can achieve big things. We already have links with our local groups and will now be exploring the possibility of what we can do working together.”

Bristol City Council owns 40% of the city’s buildings and continues to unlock these properties for community energy groups to host rooftop solar projects. It also operates the Bristol Community Energy Fund, currently offering small and large grants to local community organisations.