Solar array on roof of Bristol film and TV studios wins Global Production Award

2023 Award for Best Sustainability Initiative goes to The Bottle Yard Studios in Bristol, where David Tennant is currently shooting Disney+ Jilly Cooper drama Rivals. 

The award, given at a prestigious ceremony as part of the 76th Cannes Film Festival in France, recognises the innovative rooftop array on top of the new studio building TBY2, which opened last autumn. 

Solar array on rooftop of TBY2 facility and The Bottle Yard film and TV studios in Bristol

The 1MWp community-owned array powers TBY2, a new £12m facility offering premium sound-proofed shooting space. It contains three large film and TV studios. The largest, Studio 9, has a floor area of some 1,862 m2 (20,048 square feet). 

Sustainable features of the building include a sophisticated management system that controls built-in heating, cooling and ventilation in all stages whilst optimising energy conservation. 

Developed in partnership with Bristol City Council’s energy services team and funded by the non-profit Bristol Energy Cooperative (BEC), the array comprises more than 2,300 photovoltaic (PV). It is thought to be the largest community-owned rooftop array in the UK as well as the biggest rooftop PV system in the UK studios sector. 

It can generate enough energy to power more than 250 average households per year. Bristol City Council, which owns and runs The Bottle Yard, initially planned to install a 283kWp solar array on the new expansion facility but – thanks to funding from BEC – the final array was three times larger than originally planned. 

That means the wider community will benefit. 

Over time, surplus energy from the array will be shared through the Bristol City Leap Sleeved Pool electricity supply model, which connects buildings and ‘sleeves’ energy generated from one to another, reducing energy consumption from non-renewables.  

BEC’s community-ownership model provides a return to investors, while surplus revenues will be cycled back into the local community through grants and investment in more local energy projects. BEC’s current share offer is open until July 17, 2023. It aims to raise another £1m to fund further ambitious rooftop solar installations. 

Laura Aviles, Senior Film Manager at Bristol City Council, says: ‘The Bottle Yard team is hugely proud to accept this award. Receiving global recognition for our TBY2 solar array is an honour.  

‘By partnering with Bristol Energy Cooperative and Bristol City Council’s Energy Services team, we transformed TBY2’s vast roof into an incredible renewable energy asset that benefits not just the facility and its production clients but also the wider city of Bristol as it moves towards carbon neutrality. The community ownership model is entirely replicable and directly empowers Bristol communities and local shareholders. 

‘We hope TBY2 can inspire others who are thinking innovatively and creatively about how solar energy can be further utilised by studios around the world.’   

Andy O’Brien, Co-Director of Bristol Energy Cooperative, adds: ‘This is brilliant news! We are really excited that TBY2 has received this award. This rooftop installation is our largest to date and believed to be the biggest community-owned solar rooftop installation in the UK. It shows the power of community energy as a force for good, not only for the city of Bristol but for everyone enjoying the productions being filmed at TBY2.’ 

Cllr Kye Dudd, Cabinet Member for Climate, Ecology, Waste and Energy at Bristol City Council, says: ‘Receiving the Sustainable Initiative Award is a major endorsement for the Bottle Yard Studio’s new TBY2 facility, which will create 1,000 jobs for our city and further positions Bristol as a world-leader in sustainability – setting new industry standards and benchmarks. 

‘This project, along with the many others, big and small, underway across the city, including our landmark City Leap Partnership, are supporting our ambition of building a climate resilient and carbon neutral city. I hope the award inspires others across our city and beyond to join us on our journey as we continue to tackle the climate and ecological emergencies.’ 

Presented by Screen International, the Global Production Awards celebrate outstanding and sustainable work in the fields of film and TV production, locations and studios.  

In related news, the first shared solar park in England is to be built in Devon.

Photo courtesy of Bristol City Council


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