South Bristol Energy announces plans

  • New district heat and power system to supply low carbon energy to approximately 1,400 homes and local businesses
  • Annual fund to help local residents reduce energy consumption and tackle fuel poverty 
  • Proposals a boost for Mayor’s 2050 carbon-neutral target
  • Plans to be exhibited on June 28, at Windmill Hill City Farm

A brownfield site in Bedminster is to become home to a low-carbon, high-tech energy centre providing clean and efficient energy to circa 1,400 local homes and businesses, under new plans published by South Bristol Energy.

The proposal for a low-carbon energy centre and distribution network would provide homes and businesses with electricity, heating and hot water while lowering emissions by at least 30 per cent compared to traditional energy supply.  Energy generated at the new energy centre would be supplied to homes and businesses through a network of underground pipes and wires.

The company behind the scheme, South Bristol Energy (not to be confused with Bristol City Council’s own Bristol Energy Company), is owned by Low Carbon Limited, an investment company specialising in low carbon energy production.

The brownfield site is currently surrounded mainly by industrial and storage units, with the Malago River to the east, Clarke Street to the south and Windmill Hill City Farm to the north.

A public right of way for pedestrians and cyclists runs along the western edge of the site.

The proposed energy centre would sit at the heart of the new Bedminster Green community, which would see the regeneration of land between East Street and Bedminster train station. In total, Bedminster Green (including the new homes already granted at St Catherine’s Place) will provide about 1,200 new homes, as well as major refurbishment to St Catherine’s Shopping Centre on East Street, and substantial investment in Bedminster train station which would see a new entrance from the Bedminster side of the tracks

South Bristol Energy is working with Bristol-based developer Urbis, who has a ‘framework’ agreement with Bristol City Council to deliver this important regeneration scheme. Urbis is well known in Bristol for its sustainable Bedminster developments including the successful Passivhaus housing scheme and latterly the residential development at St Catherine’s Place off East Street.

The planning application for the new energy centre is expected to be submitted within the next few weeks, following a public consultation event to be held at Windmill Hill Community Centre on 28 June, from 2:00pm to 8:00pm. Everyone is welcome to attend. The proposals will also be on display at Windmill City Farm from the July 3rd to the 17th.

A major boost for the Mayor’s carbon-neutral City plans

The new energy centre would make a major contribution towards the Mayor, Marvin Rees’ target of Bristol becoming a carbon-neutral city by 2050 – a goal set as part of the Bristol Green Capital 2015 legacy.

While Bristol City Council is currently developing out its own district heating system in the city centre, this new proposal by South Bristol Energy is entirely privately owned and funded. The Energy Centre proposal is to produce 16MWth energy with an investment of £11m – which will be in addition to the £5m fund announced by the Mayor last year for its own network.

Martin Pickard, Investment Director at Low Carbon Limited, said: “This project will be a major contributor to Bristol’s goal of being carbon neutral by 2050. It will provide local residents and businesses with the energy they need while helping to reduce costs. We’re excited to be part of such an important and ambitious project.”

Local Combined Heat & Power – Bristol Council’s favoured system

The Council is encouraging developers to incorporate the ability to connect into district heating systems within their proposals, with Combined Heat & Power (CHP) being the Council’s preferred way to generate heat and power. 

CHP district energy schemes are very efficient because, not only is very little energy lost during transportation – as the energy is generated very near to where it’s being used – but the heat created through generating electricity is also used for heating and hot water, which is then sent to local homes and businesses through a network of pipes.  The energy centre is also using sophisticated technology to manage and reduce emissions by at least 30% and which will comfortably meet the stringent air quality standards.

Community centre & Factory No. 1 set to be first customers

Windmill Hill City Farm, which sits to the north of the site, is already in talks with South Bristol Energy to provide the community centre with all its electricity and hot water, significantly reducing the Farm’s running costs.

Steve Sayer, Windmill Hill City Farm’s Chief Executive, said: “Windmill Hill City Farm sits at the heart of a community that values our precious local and global environment and resources. It is fantastic news that South Bristol Energy is not only able to provide cleaner and greener energy for our local community, but is also able to provide it at a significant discount.”

Developer City & Country is also planning on connecting its redevelopment of Wills Factory No 1 (Consort House and Regent House) on East Street, Bedminster, into the South Bristol Energy network.

Energy centre will sit at heart of Bristol’s most sustainable community

In 2014, the Council granted permission for 188 new homes in a 16-storey tower at St Catherine’s Place, which formed the first part of Bedminster Green development. Developer Urbis is also hoping a further 950 homes, including 200 affordable properties, will be built in Bedminster Green over the next few years, as part of the regeneration project.

The new energy centre will provide electricity, heating and hot water for the whole Bedminster Green development. South Bristol Energy also has the potential to link up to Northfield House, Holroyd House and Polden House properties to ultimately provide efficient and lower cost energy which would help combat fuel poverty.

Richard Clarke, Managing Director at developer Urbis, said: “Bedminster Green will be Bristol’s most sustainable community. It is just a mile from the city centre, has the new MetroBus service and will have a greatly improved train station – and now the energy centre delivering clean, low carbon energy to residents and businesses. Bedminster Green – with the energy centre at its very heart – will be a huge win for South Bristol.”

Award-winning Bristol designers create ‘sculptural’ energy centre building

 Award-winning Bristol-based architect Nash Partnership – whose local projects include the Paintworks and the Grade II listed Burwalls Estate next to Clifton Suspension Bridge – has designed the new energy centre building.

The building will have a distinctive and sculptural design with interesting cladding that is arranged in a series of changing vertical shapes articulated around the structure. This will be combined with varying degrees of permeability to allow pedestrians and cyclists to see the workings of the energy centre. Carefully placed lighting will be used to highlight the building’s shape and form at night.

Daniel Lugsden, Partner at Nash Partnership said: “The design of the energy centre has to be functional. But it also has an opportunity to be something quite sculptural, something interesting, a building that celebrates something positive at the very heart of the community.

It will help create and define what will be Bristol’s most sustainable community.”

Fund to tackle local fuel poverty

South Bristol Energy Company is teaming up with the Bristol Energy Network community interest company to help administer the South Bristol Energy Fund to help local residents make their homes more energy efficient. South Bristol Energy is hoping to help up to 20 homeowners a year, including those most threatened by fuel poverty. Residents living within a mile of the energy centre will be able to apply.