By Zoe Banks-Gross
On a sunny, but cool September evening, Bristol Energy Cooperative, Easton Energy Group and Bristol Energy Network coordinated and led a renewable energy bike ride through Avonmouth and Lawrence Weston. The Bristol Cycle Festival acted as a catalyst to make the ride happen, as there had been talk of similar for some time. Vicky Wakefield-Jarrett (BEC) and I planned the route which we risk assessed in the summer, and David Tudgey of BEN and Ambition Lawrence Weston connected with Thrive Renewables to allow us access to their windfarm and to look inside a wind turbine.
The group met at the Railway Station in Avonmouth at 6 pm, we were a total of 15. The first stretch was not terribly exciting along a busy road in the very industry-orientated area. We turned off and quickly found ourselves on quieter roads with shared pedestrian/bicycle routes which were more pleasant to ride along. The first stopping point was near the BEC solar farm.
Vicky spoke about the BEC Community Solar Farm, some of which is visible on the left side of the photo, a 4.3 MW scheme, which is enough to power 1000 homes. The Thrive turbines are visible in the background. David Tudgey spoke about how the local community group, Ambition Lawrence Weston, was involved in the process as well as how it has been able to galvanise further support for renewable energy projects.
After listening to Vicky and Dave, we went in search of the access point to the Thrive Renewables Windfarm. Unfortunately, it was a bit more difficult than we thought to find the gate where we could access the site. We got a few extra miles in and more views of the turbines before eventually finding the correct gate and Adrian waiting behind it. Adrian Warman, from Thrive, spoke to us about the four-turbine, 8.2MW site and let us look inside the turbine. Finding out how much energy the Avonmouth windfarm generates (annual forecast of 2.9GWh, enough for over 5,000 UK homes each year) and also learning that on the site there were nesting Barn Owls and Stock Doves was brilliant. The temperatures began to drop and we realised that we needed to get pedalling, so we left the site and rode together to the Shirehampton Railway Station. Some of us stayed on for some dinner at the Lamplighter and a train ride back and others continued cycling along the Portway back to central Bristol. All in all a good adventure, connecting sustainable transport and renewable energy is something we need to do more often.
 Calculated using the most recent statistics from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) showing that annual UK average domestic household consumption is 3,900kWh.