Celebrating the successful construction of England’s largest onshore wind turbine – a BBRC impact investment

Photo: Allen Kiely, on behalf of Ambition Community Energy CIC & OVO Energy

We are delighted to see the successful construction and operation of England’s largest onshore wind turbine. BBRC is incredibly proud to have invested in this pioneering, 100% community-owned, clean energy project, through our Bristol focused impact fund, City Funds.

The City Funds investment totalling £750k to date, plus £150k from Power to Change, has provided leverage for £5m further investment from Thrive Renewables plc, Bristol City Council, private investors, and grant funding from West of England Combined Authority (WECA).

The 115m diameter, 4.2 MW wind turbine will generate enough clean energy to power more than 3,000 homes – equivalent to Lawrence Weston’s domestic energy usage.

Roger Sabido, local resident and originator of the project, cut a ribbon at the ceremony on 17th June 2023 which was attended by Darren Jones MP for Bristol North West as well as other key stakeholders who have helped fund the project including the West of England Mayoral Combined Authority’s Metro Mayor Dan Norris, Councillor Kye Dudd from Bristol City Council and others.

“With energy prices still sky-high, the opening of this community-led wind turbine couldn’t come at a better time. In the longer-term, investing in renewables is the way forward to reach Net Zero.

“Public perception of onshore wind turbines is shifting in a positive direction. From individual community-led turbines to larger wind farms, I hope the winds of change are blowing across the UK for a greener future.”

Darren Jones MP for Bristol North West

A wholly-owned subsidiary of Ambition Lawrence Weston (ALW), Ambition Community Energy CIC was established in 2018 as a means of delivering the green energy ambitions of the Lawrence Weston Community Plan. There are no shareholders in ACE, so any surplus generated from electricity sales will be reinvested back into the community, driving local regeneration efforts.

ACE announced a 2-year contract with Bristol-based OVO Energy, specifically supporting a power purchase agreement which is subsidy-free renewable energy. This partnership, supporting community energy, helps promote and incentivise small-scale, independent wind and solar farms by offering them an above-market price for the electricity they generate.

Over its lifetime, the turbine will save an estimated 45,000 tonnes of carbon emissions, contributing significantly to the fight against climate change.

The successful completion and operation of the wind turbine project marks a significant turning point for onshore wind deployment in England, which has seen a decline in recent years. With only two onshore wind farms completed in England, Ambition Lawrence Weston’s wind turbine sets a precedent for community-led applications across the country. This accomplishment showcases the power of grassroots-driven initiatives and underscores the pivotal role that communities can play in driving the transition to renewable energy and a Just Energy Transition.

The project’s success aligns with the West of England’s commitment to becoming carbon neutral by 2030, providing a blueprint for other community energy groups in the UK to create green jobs amidst a challenging economic landscape.

“Many Lawrence Weston residents are struggling with fuel poverty due to poor insulation and low-energy efficiency. Ambition Lawrence Weston has taken the lead in implementing their community plan to address these issues and tackle the climate emergency, resulting in the construction of this wind turbine project.”

David Tudgey, ACE Project Development Manager

“The successful construction and operation of England’s largest wind turbine is a testament to the dedication and vision of local residents, Ambition Lawrence Weston and Ambition Community Energy because it is also community-owned. This achievement sets a precedent for community-led renewable energy projects and highlights the crucial role that communities and residents can play in driving the transition to clean energy.”

Mark Pepper, resident and Ambition Lawrence Weston Development Manager

“I have spent the last 45 years working on huge wind energy developments all over the world, but this is my first community-owned project, and it was not simple! I came across Lawrence Weston in 2015, when I was Chair of European Green Capital year. It is great to have been an integral part of the project’s development since then. The completion of this wind turbine is a significant milestone for onshore wind deployment in England. I am proud to have been part of this transformative project.”

Andrew Garrad, ACE Board Member

“I am delighted to see the successful completion of Ambition Lawrence Weston’s community-owned wind turbine. This project exemplifies Bristol’s commitment to becoming carbon neutral by 2030 and demonstrates the vital importance of the city working in partnership with community groups to achieve our ambitious climate goals. This is the just transition in action and I congratulate everyone involved in making this project a reality.”

Councillor Kye Dudd, Cabinet Member for Waste, Energy, Climate Change and Ecology at Bristol City Council

“Congratulations to the brilliant Ambition Lawrence Weston and Ambition Community Energy teams and everyone involved in making this brilliant project a reality. This will be a gamechanger for Lawrence Weston – the opportunity for green, clean energy for thousands of residents, and one that can help bring down those sky-high energy bills. And it’s projects like these that are so, so vital if we are going to reach our very ambitious net-zero targets.”

Dan Norris, Mayor of the West of England
Photo: Allen Kiely, on behalf of Ambition Community Energy CIC & OVO Energy

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