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Bristol City Council

Bristol City Council: Case Study

Case study: Creating a municipal energy delivery unit

City / area: Bristol

Lead organisation: Bristol City Council



Since 2005, Bristol City Council has been engaged in a series of energy efficiency and investment initiatives to improve its energy performance, cut its carbon emissions and deliver substantial savings on its energy bill.  This is just one of the reasons why Bristol was given the title of European Green Capital in 2015 – the UK’s first ever city to win this award.

The Council’s award winning Energy Service is one of the key driving forces behind this activity, delivering projects that benefit the social, economic and environmental health of the city.  The Energy Service has the capability and expertise to deliver a wide range of energy-related projects – from domestic energy efficiency, to renewable energy generation, to major infrastructure projects such as heat networks, as well as supporting community energy activities.

As part of the Energy Service’s work, a Council-owned energy supplier, Bristol Energy, was established in 2015 with the ethos of being a force for social good.


Low Carbon Ambition

In 2017, three years ahead of schedule, the Council met and exceeded its target to reduce corporate carbon emissions by 50% against a 2005 baseline. 

In the longer-term, Bristol’s ambition is to become carbon neutral by 2050.



Building on previous work undertaken across many teams within the Council, £2m of funding for new staff and technical consultancy work was secured from the European Investment Bank’s ELENA fund in 2012, which led directly to the creation of the Energy Service.

ELENA is part of the European Investment Bank’s broader effort to support the EU’s climate and energy policy objectives. This joint EIB-European Commission initiative helps local and regional authorities to prepare energy efficiency or renewable energy projects.

To secure this funding, the Bristol City Council committed to delivering a 25x ‘leverage factor’ and successfully delivered £50m of investment in renewable energy assets and energy efficiency measures over the timeframe of its ELENA programme.

Following the completion of the ELENA programme, the income generated by these assets now covers the cost of running the Energy Service, enabling it to continue to deliver new projects and generate additional income for the council.

Invested in excess of £50 million in renewable energy assets and energy efficiency measures

  • Installed over 16MW of renewable electricity generation
  • Set up Bristol Energy, one of the UK’s first municipal energy companies, supporting local renewable generation and addressing fuel poverty in the city and beyond
  • Undertaken energy efficiency projects across the council’s corporate estate, saving £1m annually from energy bills
  • Manage the most successful local authority revolving energy efficiency fund in the UK
  • Launched the Bristol Community Energy Fund, which provides grant funding to community groups for new energy projects across the city
  • Set up and manage one of the most ambitious housing retrofit schemes in the UK, delivering energy efficiency improvements to over 1,000 private homes in the city and a £4.5m investment in the city’s housing stock to date
  • Supply over 1,000 council-owned social housing flats with zero carbon heat
  • Audit the council’s overall environmental performance, ensuring legal compliance, preventing pollution and continually driving improvement in environmental performance.
  • Purchase and manage c£8m of utilities spend on behalf of the council, including its social housing and schools
  • Operate and maintain the council’s renewable energy assets, collecting     c£2m of income annually.

For further information contact: David White, Head of Energy Services, Bristol City Council


Key Facts

  • 60% reduction in corporate carbon emissions since 2005
  • £50m investment in renewable energy assets and energy efficiency measures
  • £2m in gross annual revenue from renewable energy assets
  • Installed 16.4MW of renewable energy generation capacity
  • Generate  31.3GWh of renewable energy per year

Success Factors

  • The right people / organisations involved
  • Building and retaining in-house expertise and capacity


  • Future funding
  • Keeping up to speed with new developments in a fast moving sector


Project images






Promoting excellence in public services

APSE (Association for Public Service Excellence) is a not for profit unincorporated association working with over 300 councils throughout the UK. Promoting excellence in public services, APSE is the foremost specialist in local authority frontline services, hosting a network for frontline service providers in areas such as waste and refuse collection, parks and environmental services, cemeteries and crematorium, environmental health, leisure, school meals, cleaning, housing and building maintenance.






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