Projects in this share offer
The following projects are likely to be supported by Share Offer 7.
Bristol Community Hydro Scheme
The largest scheme featured in this share offer is BEC’s run of the river hydro scheme at Netham Weir, about a mile away from Bristol Temple Meads railway station.
Micro hydro is an increasingly popular technology across the UK and internationally. It uses the natural force of the water falling across the weir to spin a turbine and generate electricity, without the need for building a large reservoir.
BEC has been developing this site for a number of years, and it now has Planning consent from Bristol City Council and the necessary Environment Agency licences. The project will use tried and trusted twin Archimedes screw turbine technology with a combined 300kW output, enough to power 250 typical homes. The scheme will run night and day throughout the year, with peak output in winter. Its total cost is around £2.4million.
The scheme is not eligible for the Feed-In Tariff scheme, so BEC has sought additional sources of funding for the project. It has crowd-funded £30,000 (of donations) from over 400 supporters to progress the pre-construction phase of the scheme and is seeking in-kind support from a number of businesses.
BEC has also applied to the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) for a £1.15million grant for the scheme. Without this grant the scheme is unlikely to be viable. In April 2020 BEC received first-stage approval for the grant and has been working since then towards full approval. ERDF will make the final decision in December 2020. The decision is not affected by Brexit. The grant is however dependent on BEC match-funding the money, and funds from this share offer would provide this.
In March 2020 BEC completed the first subsidy-free rooftop solar PV installation in its portfolio – a 152kW array at Bristol Indoor Bowls Club. The financial model for the installation is viable because the building has a large roof, the Club is a high-volume electricity user and was willing to sign a long-term lease and Power Purchase Agreement because of the cost and carbon savings the scheme will bring to the Club.
A second subsidy-free rooftop installation is scheduled for this share offer. BEC expects to develop additional schemes through its Zero West collaborations and because the reality of climate change is spurring ever more people and organisations into taking practical action. Funds from this share offer will be allocated to further rooftop schemes as available. These funds may include those that had earlier been used as bridge-funding for the hydro scheme and which have subsequently been replenished by the ERDF grant.
Community microgrids – the Water Lilies project
BEC has worked with Bristol-based start-up Clean Energy Prospector (CEPRO) for a number of years. CEPRO manages metering and billing for BEC’s rooftop solar sites. CEPRO also designed the installation of BEC’s 106kWp/169kWh grid-servicing Tesla battery at a site near Winchester. The two companies had been looking for ways to integrate renewable energy and battery technology into residential housing, and in 2019 established the Microgrid Foundry to do this. Chelwood Community Energy (CCE) is a third partner in the company.
Microgrids combine excellent energy efficiency with on-site renewables, energy storage and smart technology. Residents get most of their energy from on-site generation, topping up from the grid when needed, and exporting any excess energy to it. No fossil fuel is used on site.
The technology is available now, but the big housebuilders are reluctant to adopt this model because it’s novel and requires a change of mindset. The Microgrid Foundry aims to demonstrate the benefits and catalyse the national rollout of domestic microgrids.
Two Microgrid Foundry sites are now under construction. One features in this share offer – the Water Lilies site in Bristol.