Bristol Mayor visits SoLa project in Knowle West


Left to right: Mark Dale from Western Power Distribution, Bristol Mayor George Ferguson and SoLa participant Lee Moore being photographed by local media.

With energy companies putting up their prices – a Knowle West project has received praise from the Mayor of Bristol for helping local residents generate their own electricity.

Thirty council houses in the area have had solar panels installed as part of the £2.8 million SoLa Bristol Project. An office and at least five schools in Bristol will also benefit from the scheme.

The project which involves Knowle West Media Centre and partners Western Power, Bristol City Council and Siemens is unique because the panels are being linked to batteries – so participants can store their energy and use it during the night or in bad weather.

The homes are linked to the local electricity network, allowing Western Power Distribution to use the stored energy in periods of high demand at an agreed tariff.

Bristol Mayor, George Ferguson visited one of participants this month to find out more about the innovative project.

Lee Moore who lives in one of the first homes in the area to test the battery storage chatted to Mr Ferguson about his energy saving.

He said: “The solar panels and battery are great.  They’re hooked up to power my lights, sockets and a USB charger. I have managed to save £10 to £15 a month through taking part. The price of everything has gone up and people are struggling, so it’s good to be able to save money to use on other things like after school clubs.”

Mr Ferguson said:  “As we gear up for Bristol’s year as European Green Capital in 2015 I’ve said that the city should be acting as a laboratory for change, becoming a test-bed for innovative projects.

“Here we have a perfect example of the living lab, with Knowle West trying out a new and different approach to solar energy.

“We need to lower our carbon output, encourage cleaner energy use and tackle the social and economic inequalities between different parts of Bristol. SoLa Bristol contributes to all three of these important aims and I’m absolutely delighted to see it up and running.”

Participants will be given computer tablets so they can see their energy usage and savings live every hour, through a creative interface developed by an artist at Knowle West Media Centre.

The scheme, which is grant-funded through Ofgem’s Low Carbon Networks Fund will run for three years and is expected to reduce carbon emissions and the energy bills of the people taking part. This will be closely monitored by academic partner the University of Bath.

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