Bristol’s major employers sign up to a more energy efficient future

Bristol City Council, the University of Bristol and University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust (UH Bristol) have committed themselves to a more energy efficient future by signing a Memorandum of Understanding to work together on a district energy network.

The signing took place on Thursday March 5, between the Mayor of Bristol, George Ferguson, Professor Guy Orpen, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bristol and John Savage CBE, Chairman of UH Bristol NHS Foundation Trust. 

The district energy network will supply heat and power to a range of buildings through a network of underground pipes and cables from a central energy centre.

This is more efficient than sourcing energy from localised boilers or electricity from the grid.

In Bristol we want to develop a similar but more modest network to improve the city’s energy infrastructure and reduce urban heat waste

The University and Hospital network will be fuelled by an efficient combined heat and power energy centre, which will provide both organisations with lower carbon energy and cheaper heating costs. 

Mayor George Ferguson said:

“I recently visited Copenhagen, which is a previous European Green Capital winner and around 98 per cent of the city’s heat is supplied by a district energy network so residents and businesses benefit. 

“In Bristol we want to develop a similar but more modest network to improve the city’s energy infrastructure and reduce urban heat waste. We’re planning for the future and I’m delighted that we’re going to be working with two of the city’s biggest organisations on this initiative.”

Green partnerships

District energy is a versatile system and it’s possible to connect different heat and energy sources and expand the network to reach new areas.

The council is exploring the possibility of connecting the hospital and university system to the council’s social housing flats on Dove Street in the longer term.

Professor Guy Orpen, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, said: “The University signed the agreement as a mark of our commitment to reducing our carbon emissions and moving towards a more energy efficient future. 

“We are working with the council and city partners on a number of exciting initiatives taking place during Bristol’s European Green Capital year and we are looking forward to developing the district energy plans together.”

Trust Chairman John Savage added:

“We’re very pleased to be involved in this scheme. It will allow us to build on our existing green energy partnership with the council, which has already seen some excellent progress. 

“As a hospital trust, it’s part of our role to help people be healthier. Developing a district energy network will have clear health benefits for those who are often hard-hit by fuel costs.

“This, along with the fact that the new energy centre will have a lower environmental impact than our current system, will help us fulfil our commitment to be a good neighbour to those living and working near our hospitals.”

Municipal energy 

Plans for the network are being developed during Bristol’s European Green Capital Year and support the council’s plans to launch Bristol Energy, a municipal energy company, later this summer. 

Initial funding for the feasibility studies was provided by the European Investment Bank under the European Local Energy Assistance Programme (ELENA) and Bristol City Council Cabinet approved plans to develop district energy networks in July 2014.

This is phase one of the district energy network with further plans in the pipeline.