Huge solar array installed on roof of concert venue

Bristol company Solarsense has installed a huge 348-panel solar array at the iconic Bristol Beacon, as part of its recent £132m refurbishment.

Sustainability has been integral to the transformation of the Beacon, which aims to become the UK’s first carbon neutral music venue.

The solar PV system will make an important contribution to this target, generating over 110,000 kWh annually – 99.6% of which is expected to be used on site – avoiding more than 24,000 kg/year of carbon emissions.

Delivering a world-class programme of over 800 events a year, the Beacon has pledged to use its unique place as a music venue to amplify positive climate action. The solar panels are part of the venue’s sustainability roadmap which covers all aspects of its operations, from supply chain management to visitor engagement to business travel.

Award-winning solar installer Solarsense worked with building contractor Willmott Dixon, community energy developer Bristol Energy Cooperative and building owner Bristol City Council to deliver the solar PV system, which will also contribute to the city’s ambition to reach net zero by 2030.

Stephen Barrett, managing director of Solarsense, said: “As a local company that has been based in the Bristol area for more than 25 years, we were delighted to be able to play our part in this important development for the city. The new venue is absolutely fantastic and we’re proud that our solar panels will be powering thousands of concerts, gigs, comedy shows and events into the future.”

Rosa Corbishley, development director, Bristol Beacon, said: “A key part of Bristol Beacon’s transformation was to use the opportunity to become as sustainable as we could. We have an ambitious and detailed sustainability roadmap to help us become the first Net Zero concert hall in the UK by 2030. This new extensive solar PV system is a really important step to achieving that.”

Co-founder and Development Director of Bristol Energy Cooperative, Andy O’Brien said: “We are very proud that community energy is playing a part in the transformation of the Bristol Beacon. BEC will sell the generated electricity to the music trust at a discounted rate then funnel the revenue back to its investors and into community benefit projects. In this way, enjoying a show or gig at the Beacon, audiences are not only endorsing Bristol’s journey to net zero, they are also helping the grassroots projects that keep this city going.”

Bristol Beacon is part of a wider movement among the arts and cultural sector to take advantage of the environmental and cost-saving benefits of solar energy. Solarsense has recently installed solar PV at several other high profile venues including Bristol Old Vic, the oldest continuously working theatre in the English-speaking world, and the V&A East, a brand new museum and collection and research centre in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London.