The West of England Combined Authority has awarded £500,000 capital grant to an innovative, onshore wind turbine in Avonmouth, Bristol as part of our Local Energy Scheme. The project is being developed by the local community in Lawrence Weston, working collaboratively with its partner organisations. The funding comes from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
Ambition Lawrence Weston (ALW), a local charity, identified the potential to develop a wind turbine on nearby Bristol City Council owned land over 5 years ago. This will not only generate extra renewable energy but provide a long-term income to deliver the Lawrence Weston Community Plan, including tackling fuel poverty. Mark Pepper, who is Development Manager at ALW, said “We have 3,200 homes in Lawrence Weston, with some suffering from poor insulation and low-energy efficiency, which impacts on fuel poverty. We believe this is the tallest wind turbine to be given planning in England and as a deprived community, we are one of the first to endeavour with this type of project”.
The charity has set up Ambition Community Energy Community Interest Company (ACE CIC) to develop and manage the project. David Tudgey, Project Development Manager at ACE CIC, added “Residents have led and shaped the project and when surveyed have shown overwhelming support both for renewable energy and for this community led onshore wind turbine project”.
The 4.2MW capacity wind turbine will take one year to complete, including a year to prepare the site. The turbine itself will be built off-site but once delivered will take just two or three days to erect on-site. It will produce enough low carbon electricity to power 3,500 homes, generating 10 Gigawatt hours (GWh) annually and making greenhouse gas emissions savings of 4,457 tonnes CO₂e*'. This will contribute to meeting the regional target of net zero carbon emissions by 2030, as set out in the West of England Climate Emergency Action Plan.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has recently issued its Sixth Assessment Report. This shows that climate change caused by human activities is widespread, rapid and intensifying. IPCC Working Group I Co-Chair Panmao Zhai said “Stabilizing the climate will require strong, rapid and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions…”. This project is part of a nationwide energy transition in response to climate change. Increasing energy use from renewable sources, such as wind, will help decarbonise electricity. This will have even more impact as everyday technologies are converted to electric, such as cars and heating.
*Based on 2017 BEIS Conversion factors, required for ERDF funding.
The wind turbine, Enercon EP3 series, is a new technology platform, which incorporates in its 56m long blades, trailing edge serrations similar to owls’ wings, to reduce the sound emitted. The turbine will be 149m at tip height, with a tower of 92m. The flat back air foils improve lift and reduce sensitivity to blade soiling, making them more efficient. In addition, the 8m diameter electrical generator is shipped in 3 pieces and assembled on site. The blades have an internal bend/twist laser measurement system that can provide unique visualisation of the distortion of the blade under load to the supervisory control data acquisition system (SCADA).
ACE CIC intend to develop an Energy Learning Zone alongside the wind turbine. This space will allow schools and community groups to visit the site and experience the turbine first hand. This will be the main focus point for the Lawrence Weston Skills Academy Lifelong Learning for ages 8-80. ACE will also work with schools to provide near real-time data as webpages and summary reports from the SCADA system. These screens will help children understand what the turbine is doing, how it makes clean energy from wind and how this reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
ACE is a member of the EnergyRev Skills Advisory Board and working closely with the Bristol Energy Network and education providers, including the University of Bristol, to ensure there are paid work career pathways within the local community as part of the energy transition towards Net Zero.
The wind turbine will cost over £4m to build – approximately £2m for site works and £2m for the turbine itself. ACE CIC has been awarded £500k capital grant from the Combined Authority through its Low Carbon Challenge Fund (LCCF) programme, specifically the Local Energy Scheme. This aims to support innovative renewable energy projects in the West of England that also deliver community benefits. In the first grant round, applicant projects were evaluated against value for money, deliverability, financial viability, local community benefits and promoting low carbon solutions to stakeholders.
LCCF has received £2.1m funding from the England European Regional Development Fund, including for the Local Energy Scheme, as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for the European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit gov.uk.
Additional capital financing will come from loans currently being negotiated.
Other funders contributed over £400,000 at earlier stages in the process, to develop the project, including the Urban Community Energy Fund, Bristol City Council’s Bristol Community Energy Fund, Power to Change, Bristol Port Community and Bristol & Bath Regional Capital.
Any community group wanting to develop its own local renewable energy project can contact the South West Energy Hub for early stage advice and guidance. The Energy Hub works with public sector and not-for-profit organisations to increase the number, scale and quality of low carbon energy projects across the West of England and wider South West. The Energy Hub can help get energy projects started. It also runs the Rural Community Energy Fund which has granted £462,470 across 27 renewable energy projects. The £4m South West Energy Hub is funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and hosted by the Combined Authority.
Additional information about developing renewable energy projects can be found on the Community Energy England, Centre for Sustainable Energy, Regen and Bristol Energy Network websites.
The Combined Authority has allocated a further £800,000 from its West of England Recovery Fund to run another round of the Local Energy Scheme in 2021/22. The West of England Recovery Taskforce was set up to lead the region’s recovery following the impact of Covid-19. Full details of the next grant round can be found on the Local Energy Scheme.