City Funds has made an investment of £750,000 into Ambition Community Energy (ACE), a community-owned business developing plans to build a 4.2 MegaWatt wind turbine between Severn Beach and Avonmouth. The investment will allow ACE to complete the planning and pre-construction stages of the turbine that will generate enough clean energy to power the equivalent of approximately 3,850 houses, putting £1.5m into the hands of the community over the 30-year lifespan of the project.
A wholly-owned subsidiary of Ambition Lawrence Weston (ALW), ACE was established in 2018 as a means of deliver the green energy ambitions of the Lawrence Weston Community Plan. In addition to saving a total of 94 MegaTonnes of C02, the wind turbine will generate £50,000 for ALW each year, which will in turn be reinvested into local fuel poverty mitigation and other community benefits.
Mark Pepper, Development Manager at Ambition Lawrence Weston, said:
“Without the support and funding from City Funds this project would have stopped dead in its tracks. Now we have the funding needed to help secure planning permission. This will ensure the project delivers a mass of community benefits to Lawrence Weston and the surrounding areas. Not only will this project provide the direct environmental and financial benefits to Ambition Lawrence Weston, but we also hope this will give confidence to other community groups to make positive ambitious changes to their own communities in the future.”
ACE approached City Funds for pre-construction finance because it allowed the community to retain ownership of the project. Renewables projects are commonly developed through a portfolio approach that minimises the risk of planning rejections. However, this path could have cost the community up to half of its projected annual income. City Funds was able to find a financial solution that moved the project forward while also keeping it in community ownership.
Andy Street, Chair of City Funds, said:
“City Funds investment into ACE shows how the right type of investment at the right time can maximise benefit for the community. When built, this turbine is going to be an important asset for the Lawrence Weston Community, and contribute to Bristol’s carbon-reduction goals at the same time.”
The project has now had secretary of state approval after being granted planning permission by the council.
Update: Groundwork will start in June and the commissioning of the turbine is expected in Spring 2023.