News from Bristol Energy Network

Hi everyone,
With Community Energy Fortnight starting on Saturday, the recent government announcement on cuts to solar subsidies seems poorly timed. Or perhaps not, perhaps it’s perfect timing to get everyone involved in challenging the proposals – see below for Bristol Energy Co-operative’s response and suggested actions.

There’s lots of events on this month, including one of Bristol’s biggest green events; Green Doors open homes. You can help make this event a success by volunteering over the weekend of 26 /27 September as a Green Doors steward. More info below.

Sophie & David
On behalf of Bristol Energy Network

Massive cuts to solar subsidies

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is proposing to cut the feed-in tariff rates for solar PV installations by as much as 87%. Bristol Energy Co-op response to the news is below.

Response from Bristol Energy Co-op

Bristol Energy Co-op’s third share offer launch is now confirmed for 28th September. This is for a further round of solar installations on community buildings.

As we prepare this, the govt launched its latest attack on the renewables on 27 August, with proposals to slash the Feed-in tariff scheme by an average of 87%. This would at a stroke make projects by energy coops and many others financially unviable, and create widespread job losses in the industry. More info.

The government has crossed a red line with this proposal and we have to kick back hard and challenge the myth that renewable subsidies have a big impact on consumers’ energy bills. In actual fact the FiT scheme costs billpayers just £10 per year, ie, 0.7% of the average energy bill –

We are now working with others on a mass lobby of MPs on this issue, and will share more detail on this in the near future. But in the meantime, please:

  1. Contact your MP now and arrange to meet them on this issue.
  2. Sign these petitions and share them widely:

Our share offer may be the last time that we can run schemes like this, and we are working flat out to get as much of our project pipeline into it as we can.

Andy O’Brien
Bristol Energy Co-op

Bristol Energy Network events

5 – 20 Sept – Community Energy Fortnight

Here’s a reminder of all the activities organised by Bristol Energy Network members during Community Energy Fortnight.

5 September – Whiteladies Farmer Market
8.30 – 2.00, Blackboy Hill

Bishopston Cotham and Redland (BCR) Energy Group are running a stall at the market.

5 September – Build your own solar panel
10-4pm, Lawrence Weston Youth Centre

Demand Energy Equality are working with Ambition Lawrence Weston energy group to run this ‘build your own solar panel’ course. Open to residents of Lawrence Weston, Shirehampton and Avonmouth. To register email or call 07846 057 470.

8 September – BCR Energy Group meeting
8pm Horfield Quaker Meeting House, 300 Gloucester Road, Horfield BS7 8PD

On the agenda are Dan Weisselberg (Director and Programme Manager of) of Bristol Green Doors) who will talk about the new BGD “Route to Retrofit” website.  The website will contain a wealth of information about retrofitting homes for energy efficiency based on hard-won  experience of householders who have previously participated in the BGD Open Homes events. Thus, information previously only available on two days a year if you visited a participant’s home will become accessible year-round.
There will follow an informal discussion about the way forward for the group – suggestions/ideas very welcome.
This will include an update on the CHEESE home energy surveys and the local Heatview street by street infrared survey of the 3 wards. We will be collecting names for a register of people interested in having a survey performed during the winter months.
Also featured is a short introduction to MakeyourhomeEco courses taking the form of the Home Energy Jigsaw game which shows the way all the elements of managing and tackling home energy issues fit together.
Free, with requested donations for cost of room hire. For further details email

8 September – Community Energy Q&A
1pm, online forum

Get the how, where, when, why and who on community energy. The Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) and the team behind the new Community Energy Hub website (coming soon from the Energy Saving Trust) are hosting a live web chat on the Just Act Forum – Tuesday 8 September, 1pm.

For an hour, members of Just Act can log on to ask questions about community energy and how they can get involved. Registration for Just Act is free and easy, and gives people access to a whole range of resources, blogs and information, as well as to the forum itself.

The Q&A session will take place at:

No need to worry if you can’t make that time. The Q&A session will be available to read on the Just Act forum so you can still benefit from the tips and advice shared. And, as ever, you can reach the CSE communities team at

10 & 17 September – free Talking Energy courses
10.30 -12.30, Lawrence Weston Youth Centre

The partnership between MakeyourhomeEco and Talking Money continues through European Green Capital year. The joint Talking Energy short courses – supported by a Bristol 2015 grant and Lottery Awards for All – have already been run in West Street, Southville, The Centre, and Easton. They are now scheduled for Lawrence Weston and Knowle West.
  • Thursday 10 September – 10.30 – 12.30 – Understanding energy consumption and bills
  • Thursday 17 September – 10.30 – 12.30 – Managing your bills and energy efficiency advice
  • September/ October – Home Visit with a free winter survival kit (including insulation material)
Places can be booked with Talking Money on 0117 954 3990 / 0800 141 2004 and by email to the Energy Advice Project team at

The workshops are aimed primarily at those in fuel poverty, aiming to help keep them out of fuel debt by providing energy efficiency advice, such as understanding energy consumption, managing energy bills, and providing practical energy efficiency and support. The sessions can be attended separately or as a two-part course over consecutive weeks.

The 90-minute advice sessions will cover all the skills needed to get the best energy deals, manage bills, reduce usage and maximise energy savings.

Course attendees will then be offered a free home energy audit so they can apply their new skills and receive free insulation materials.

If you work with clients who would benefit from one of the workshops please email They are also looking for locations and partners who can host a short course where residents are already involved.

10 September – Energy Survey of Hillfields Youth Hub
Thicket Rd, Bristol, BS16 4EH

Greater Fishponds Energy Group will be carrying out an energy survey of the Hillfields Youth Hub on 10th September. They will be joined by a number of Energy Champions so that they can learn about carrying out surveys of community buildings. The results of the survey will help the Youth Hub understand their energy use, ahead of the building being transferred from Bristol City Council to the community. Contact for more info.

10 September – Easton Energy Group monthly clothes swap
7.30pm at Warm Up Bristol show home 56 Heron Road

11 September – Planning a smarter energy future for Bristol
12.00, Open Space

For the last two years, Bristol has been working with the cities of San Sebastian and Florence on ‘Systems Thinking for Comprehensive City Efficient Energy Planning’ (STEEP), an exploration of how to move towards more sustainable and efficient smart city planning. You can read more about the project at:

As the project draws to a close, the Bristol project partners (Arup, Bristol City Council, CSE, University of Bristol) will present their outputs and share their findings at an extended lunchtime talk on 11 September 2015 from 12:00 to 15:00 at Open Space in central Bristol.

This event is open to all but would be of particular interest to people working, studying or interested in energy planning, and those interested in how smart cities, including energy planning, could transform our cities. The event will be chaired by Gary Topp, Development Director at Bristol Green Capital Partnership.

For details of the programme for the talk and how to register, click here.

12 September – Knowle West Fest
12 – 8pm Filwood Broadway, Knowle West, BS4 1JL

Re:work are running a swap shop, and repair cafe at Knowle West Fest. There will be food and music and general celebrations. If anyone wants a stall or space contact Lou at the Park: 0117 9039770 or


19 September – Make Your Home Cosy
2-5pm, Warm up Bristol Show Home, 56 Heron Road, Easton

Do you live in a cold, draughty or house in poor condition? Come along to this event for: friendly and expert advice on energy and your rights as a tenant, draught-proofing and secondary glazing workshop, knit-your-own draught excluding snake/dolphin and the energy light-bulb challenge and other games for children. Find out how to approach your landlord or agent for home improvements.

19 September – Renewables Day
2-4pm, Easton Community Centre, Kilburn Street, Bristol, Avon BS5 6AW

Hear about exciting developments around community solar project in Easton and for the rest of the City:

  • Owen Square Community Energy Project; Not-for-profit solar scheme is a pilot for installation of an Energy Centre that seeks to capture and store summer heat in the ground for use inthe summer.
  • Two Wards of Solar for Bedminster and Easton; Easton Energy Group and Bedminster Energy Group have been awarded a government grant to see if it is possible to set up a local community energy project that will offer cheap daytime solar electricity to local people and a community improvement fund for the area. The project aims to put solar on 150 domestic roofs in the two wards as part of the pilot.
  • Citywide solar Bristol Energy Cooperative announce plans for their next share offer for solar on community buildings across the city and projects they are currently working on. Contact:

19 September – Bishopston, Cotham and Redland Neighbourhood Community Fair 
12.30 – 4.30pm, St. MIchael and All Angel Church, Gloucester Road 

BCR Energy Group are running a stall at the local Neighbourhood Community Fair.

For the rest of the month…

22 September Easton Energy Group members meeting 
You don`t have to be a member to join, just come along on the night to find out about and get involved in exciting local projects. Immediately afterwards (c.7.30pm) please join the ‘World Food Energy Cafe’ social, this month’s theme is Mexico!

26 – 27 September – Bristol Green Doors

Bristol Green Doors are working hard on their forthcoming green open homes event September 26-27th. 32 homes will be opening in areas far and wide from Brislington to Shirehampton and Horfield to Bedminster. Some are whole house refurbs, one is built with straw, two are off gas, one has a voltage optimiser. Check out our brand new website going live any day now!

The website, is designed to support the Route to Retrofit. Lots of work has gone into it and will continue to do so in the lead up to BGD 2015 and beyond. Your views as BEN members and community are really important to BGD. It is intended to be something to help people – does it work? (We hope so!!)
From the beginning of September the popular map booklets will be ready for distribution around the city. If you can help drop some off in local shops, bars and cafes please email
It’s not too late to sign up to be an Event Steward. A number are coming through from the Energy Champions project but as a number of previous openers and stewards have expressed an interest in volunteering, they have set up a new registration form It’s a great role – meet the public, support Green Doors and learn about homes fit for the future. And receive your T-Shirt!

Bristol Energy Network news Demand Energy Equality short-listed for funding – your help needed

Bristol-based Demand Energy Equality, in partnership South East London Community Energy, have been shortlisted for funding from the M&S Community Energy Fund, chosen by popular vote. They need your help to make it a reality.

DEE want to bring the benefits of renewable energy to the heart of the community with a specially-designed ‘solar trailer’ that can be used at local fairs, fun-days and festivals in and around SE London in place of diesel generators. As well as providing low-cost, clean energy, the trailer would be staffed by volunteers providing information on renewables, energy advice and sign-posting to involvement in community energy.

To vote for this project click here.

DEE need to get as many votes as possible to make this project a reality and for this they need your help.

Will you help by forwarding this email to anyone you think may find it of interest? Or by sharing on social media?

Sample tweets:

The deadline to vote is 30th September and the more support we can drum up before then the better.


Low Carbon Gordano update

Following the successful conclusion of their second community share offer, Low Carbon Gordano has placed the contract for building the Ham Lane Solar Array at Kingston Seymour in North Somerset with Solarsense who built their first project at Moorhouse Lane near Hallen in Bristol. Orders have been placed for the solar panels, inverters, and the ground mounting system. Solarsense plan to start work on site in mid-August and to complete the project by the early November.

Meanwhile the Moorhouse solar array has generated over 1,000,000kWh and saved over 500 tonnes of CO2 since beginning operating in April 2015.

More information on both these projects can be found at

CHANGE AGENTS European volunteers programme

CHANGE AGENTS UK (CAUK) delivered a programme to host 30 young volunteers from across Europe to volunteer on activities related to Bristol European Green Capital 2015 for two months this summer. The project contributed to the objectives of the Bristol Green Capital programme by providing enthusiastic and capable volunteers to act as ‘Change Agents’ in projects across Bristol: increasing capacity and raising the profile of local projects that are making a positive impact for sustainability in the city. It also included two of the 30 volunteers in Bristol Energy Network that embarked on their journey of life-changing cultural and work experience placements. More info

Help with neighbourhood planning

Centre for Sustainable Energy is currently running a two year support programme working with local communities to help them develop Neighbourhood plans which will enable communities to take control of a low carbon future. They’ve created a guide that’s been downloaded 700 times already. You can read the guide here:

Update from Keynsham Community Energy (KCE)

Since becoming a fully-fledged Community Benefit Society in March this year KCE HQ has been very busy on numerous fronts. Their fantastic logo, design by Lucie Gray ( incorporates both the rivers that run through the town, and references the Roman mosaic which is on display in Keynsham library.

In September they will be one of three local organisations supported by Waitrose Keynsham’s Community Matters boxes. The funds raised will go towards their community work including helping households and businesses in Keynsham cut down their energy use, saving money as well as reducing the town’s carbon footprint.

KCE has been receiving support from the Regen South West accelerator project, including a renewable technology review of Keynsham. This has helped them decide which projects and technologies they should concentrate their efforts on, giving the biggest benefits and the most viable schemes. They would like to thank Regen South West for their hard work and encourage other community energy groups to have a technology review carried out for their community. They are currently working hard on a number of potential renewable energy projects that are in discussion.

All in all KCE has had a very successful 2015 and despite the government plans making community energy more difficult KCE feel there is still a lot to be positive about for the future. If you would like to find out more about KCE please or contact them at

Volunteers needed!

Energy Champions

If you’re interested in getting more involved with energy projects in Bristol, why not join Energy Champions? This volunteer programme matches up volunteers with groups in Bristol to help run energy projects, including those working on renewable energy, energy efficiency and fuel poverty. More info.

26 – 27 September – Green Doors

Huge thanks to all those who have signed up to volunteer as Stewards for Green Doors open homes. A few more are still needed to ensure that all 32 households have support over the weekend. The role involves welcoming visitors, serving refreshments, directing people around the home and answering simple questions. You’ll be provided with all the information and training you need during an induction, which is 6.30 – 9.30pm on 17 September, you don’t need to be an expert to get involved! This is a really valuable role and volunteers at all previous events have had overwhelmingly positive experiences. More info.

Other news and events

A City with a Vision: Renewable Energy in Bristol

An article about Bristol in Solar Thermal Magazine…

Bristol is one of the really happening cities in the UK with regard to renewable energy, a process that has been gathering momentum for several years now. One of the main reasons for this is simply that Bristol is attractive to businesses of all sorts, with good road and rail communications with both the South West of England and with London. Furthermore, the population of Bristol has always been fairly green-thinking to a degree, reflected in the wide range of non-governmental organisations and businesses that have located here. For example, within a short walk of the council offices in Cathedral Green are the offices of Triodos Bank, the Environment Agency and the cycling charity Sustrans. There are small and medium-sized renewable energy businesses all across the city, including a vibrant solar energy installer network. Read more.

5 September – Community Energy 2015 Conference
Saïd Business School, Park End Street, Oxford, OX1 1HPThe UK’s nascent community energy revolution picked up pace through 2014 and the early part of 2015, but what will be the impact of the emergence of a new Government? The UK’s Community Energy Strategy has recently been revitalised, but what will be the influence of changes to investor tax relief and the new approach of the FCA? More broadly, the EU is now progressing with its new Energy Union strategy which has the citizen at its centre, but will EU State Aid Guidelines restrict national support mechanisms? These and other questions will be explored at what has become the UK’s largest and most exciting annual gathering of community energy practitioners. More info.

If you’d like to go to the conference and would be interested in a lift-share then please get in touch on projects@localhost/ben.

1 October – FIT Review members’ forum
2-5.30pm, TLT Bristol Office

The renewables industry has always shared the government’s goal of reducing subsidies as costs come down and has achieved great progress in cutting costs. As we respond to the Feed-in Tariff (FIT) review consultation the most productive approach will be to put forward positive proposals as to how the government can reduce subsidies whilst providing the clarity needed for costs to continue to be reduced. This will clearly be different for individual technologies.

Delegates will have the opportunity to hear from Gareth Redmond, head of the renewables programme team, DECC and address some of the key questions that industry and community groups may have.  Responses from the day will also guide our consultation response.

First managing director appointed to Bristol Energy company ahead of its launchBristol Energy, the city council’s pioneering sustainable energy company, has appointed its first managing director as it prepares to launch.

Peter Haigh has been at the centre of many of the major developments in the UK energy industry. Most recently, he spent five years as CEO of Elexon, the company that ensures the smooth operation of the UK’s wholesale electricity market.

More info