£1bn Investment to Help Bristol Become Net Zero

Bristol City Council is entering into a world-first partnership, which will bring in over £1bn of investment to help make Bristol carbon neutral and climate resilient by 2030.

Approved by Cabinet on 6 December, the council will enter a joint venture with Ameresco Limited, and Vattenfall Heat UK as an essential subcontractor, to transform the way the city generates, distributes, stores and uses energy.

The ground-breaking venture, known as Bristol City Leap, will rapidly increase the scale and pace of investment in low carbon energy infrastructure such as wind energy, solar energy, low carbon heat networks as well as other energy efficiency measures and smart energy systems.

During the first five years of the twenty-year partnership, the private sector will invest at least £424m in a range of large infrastructure projects to reduce Bristol’s carbon footprint by 140,000 tonnes. Projects will include a major expansion of Bristol’s award-winning Heat Network, providing local businesses and residents with access to reliable, affordable low carbon heat from sustainable sources. Solar panels and low carbon heating systems will also be installed at local schools and the council’s social housing will be made more energy efficient with the aim of reducing energy bills.

Councillor Kye Dudd, Cabinet Member for Environment, Ecology, Energy and Waste, said: “The council has invested nearly £100 million in decarbonisation projects over the last five years, which includes completing the construction of Castle Park Energy Centre that houses England’s largest water source heat pump. However, the scale of investment that is needed to meet our One City Climate Strategy targets by 2030 is in the billions.

“City Leap is a big deal for Bristol. This is a world first, with Bristol leading the way in decarbonisation that other cities and regions can follow. The partnership has secured the funding, knowledge, and resources to usher in a period of extraordinary innovation, investment, and growth to accelerate our progress in reducing carbon emissions and tackling the climate emergency. We look forward to working with our new partners, and the whole city, on our journey to net zero.”

The partnership is expected to install over 182MW of low carbon energy generation across Bristol in the first five years of operation. Substantial investment will also go into community-owned renewable energy projects to help residents play a part in Bristol’s journey to carbon neutrality. Britta MacIntosh, Senior Vice President of Ameresco, said: “Our team is thrilled to be a part of such an incredible initiative taken by the City of Bristol that will hopefully open the eyes of neighbouring areas to the possibilities that exist within city-wide decarbonisation projects. “This is the first time that a UK city has embarked on such a comprehensive, transformative plan to decarbonise an entire city’s energy system by 2030. We applaud their leadership, innovation and steadfast focus on this plan.” Stuart Allison, Director of Strategy at Vattenfall Heat UK, said: “We are proud to have the opportunity to build on the pioneering work delivered by Bristol City Council. We look forward to building on the foundations they have laid with their award-winning heat network to decarbonise additional areas of the city, and providing affordable, low-carbon heat to more people in Bristol. Partnering with Ameresco means both companies can use their expertise to take a strategic approach to Bristol’s energy system, with the aim of delivering carbon neutrality by 2030.”

The partnership will also bring over £61.5m of social value to the city with the creation of over 1,000 new jobs, apprenticeships and work placements during the first five years alone. A Community Energy Development Fund worth £1.5m will be invested into local communities and, in the future, it is hoped that decarbonisation support can be offered to public sector properties such as hospitals and schools to support Bristol’s wider efforts to be carbon neutral by 2030.

Lizzi Testani, Chief Executive Officer of the Bristol Green Capital Partnership, said: “Bristol City Leap presents a major opportunity to accelerate Bristol’s progress towards its ambition to be carbon neutral by 2030 – bringing infrastructure and major investment to the city. This is a huge partnership for Bristol and due to its scale, ensuring its ability to deliver genuine social value for the city has been a major part of the procurement process. Bristol Green Capital Partnership is really looking forward to working with City Leap to engage communities and businesses to maximise the opportunities for inclusive climate action across Bristol.”

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