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Open doors at Avonmouth attracts over 130 people (and the mayor)

George Ferguson cuts the green ribbon to declare Avonmouth Windfarm officially open

25-06-2014 | Triodos Renewables is always looking for new ways to engage with, and listen to, the people investing in and living near our renewable energy projects. So on Saturday, June 7 we (quite literally) opened the doors of our new wind farm facility at Avonmouth – and more than 130 of you took us up on our invitation to come and have a look round.

mayor avonmouth

Bristol’s elected mayor George Ferguson cutting the green ribbon with eight-year-old Roisin Davies

Although the four 2MW turbines at Avonmouth have been operational since the autumn, this was our official launch of the site. We were thrilled that Bristol’s elected mayor George Ferguson could be there to do the honours of cutting the green ribbon, ably assisted by eight-year-old Roisin Davies, but our real focus was on helping visitors understand what we’re doing on the site, and why it’s so important.

Excited curiosity for our ‘Turbine Tours’

Instead of just giving a presentation, we decided the best way to explain what we were up to was to simply open the doors to our turbines. Which is exactly what we did. A steady stream of enthusiastic and curious visitors learnt first-hand how the turbines really work; how they constantly respond to the changing wind conditions and how we connect them to the national grid so they can power 4,600 homes with green electricity every year.

It was great to see so many people enjoying the turbine tours and remarking how quiet the turbines were, despite their size. As well as the tours we also had lots of other activities, including a fantastic interactive science show from

Explorer Dome and the Wind Farm Game , which let people pick their favourite spot for a wind farm (and understand some of the things they would have to consider for their site if it went ahead…).

Investing in the next generation

Since the site is also a nature reserve and home to some important plant and animal species like Great Crested Newts and voles, which we’ve worked hard to protect during all stages of our stewardship of this land, we had lots of nature themed activities. Our younger guests had the opportunity to build model turbines, complete themed puzzles, fly kites and do some nature spotting with the wildlife education team from the Landmark Practice .

Children actually made up a third of all visitors, and we’re excited to think that we may have helped these young people grow up with a new perception of renewable energy; that instead of ‘alternative energy’, for them it will simply be normal energy.

The educational element of this event has been new for us, but we’ve been delighted with the response. It’s so rewarding to see the next generation grasping the challenges of climate change as well as what we can practically do to address the issues.

Changing perceptions

As well as changing the perceptions of children, it was also great to have the opportunity to so some much needed myth busting with our adult visitors. Instead of continuing to think that turbines were a huge threat to wildlife, we set the record straight and explained that birds and bats were actually at far more risk from windows and cats that they ever would be from wind turbines. People were also pleasantly surprised to see the turbines generating for most of the morning, despite it being a warm and damp summer day and with only a breath of wind.

Did you also know that the energy payback time of our turbines is just three to sixmonths? – meaning all the energy consumed to manufacture, construct and deliver the turbines (including the foundations) is generated within the first few months, with the next 20 plus years of operation being truly sustainable electricity generation.

Saying thank you

The event was also an important opportunity for us to publically acknowledge and thank the team and the very many local contractors who contributed to the successful development and construction of the site. From

wind studies and ecological work, to high voltage contractors and hauliers, to legal teams and planning professionals, we’re hugely grateful for the work and dedication of all involved.

We made every effort to source labour locally during construction, so it was fantastic to see so many of our contractors there at the open day. This mix of people meant that all of our guests were able to share experiences from different contexts and perspectives.

Want to come next time…?

Making the connection between positive investment and sustainable energy is at the heart of what we do at Triodos Renewables. We sourced the funds for this project from 375 people, with some 5,100 individuals having now invested into our 11 operational renewable energy projects. We’re proud that our business model gives so many people the opportunity to club together to do something meaningful with their investment.

If you missed out on this opportunity to visit one of our sites, don’t despair. Given the positive feedback we’ve received from the event, and the oversubscription of the day itself, we’re keen to repeat the event both here and as well as at our other operational projects throughout the UK.

Watch this space!

Matthew Clayton, Director, Triodos Renewables

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