Bristol is really making a name for itself as a solar powered city. They announced in 2013 that they wanted to be the first city to be entirely solar powered by 2020, which was a very ambitious target. They’d set themselves a generous budget of £49 million, and were raring to go. Starting with their own properties, they began looking for the best place to begin.

The decision was made to start with their social housing stock. Less than 25% of it was deemed suitable thanks to roof pitch or position, but those which are suitable will have solar panels installed on their roofs. This will give tenants some free units of electricity during the day, while some of the feed in will be used across the city to keep it moving. The council also pointed out that this move will save tenants money, and help to combat fuel poverty. They estimate that a tenant could potentially be £260 better off every year.

They’re also thinking big, with 166 solar panels being installed on the roof at Kingsdown’s St Michael’s Hospital. The council worked with University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust’s team to help them meet their goal of installing renewable energy sources on all their new build properties. The design of a new block meant that there were plenty of unshaded areas of flat roof, ideal for installing a solar power system with multiple panels.

The plan is that the solar panels on the hospital’s roof generate 42,000 kWh each year, saving 23.6 tonnes of carbon. Given that a hot air balloon could be filled with a single tonne, you can hopefully visualise the great benefit from having the solar panels installed. The hospital will also cut down on its utility bills, as well as increasing its green credentials.

It’s not all deadly serious though. Bristol sculptor John Packer, working with Bristol based organisation “Demand Energy Equality”, has installed a “solar tree” in its Millennium Square. Solar power is fed down the tree through its solar “leaves”, and the public can plug in their mobile phones and charge up their batteries. 

Bristol is proof that everyone can really benefit from solar energy!