It’s only when you get up close to a wind turbine that you can really appreciate its scale. At Triodos Renewables’ Avonmouth wind farm, the blades alone are the height of Nelson’s column, and the whole structure would dwarf it, reaching 126 metres into the sky. Looking up from the base makes for an impressive sight for an adult, and must be even more awe-inspiring when you’re six.
Triodos Renewables’ family fun day gave a rare opportunity for those old and young to get in close proximity to the newest wind farm, in the industrial suburb of Bristol. Engaging with the communities near their wind farms is a mainstay of the green energy company’s approach, and the day’s focus was helping visitors understand what they’re doing on the site, and why it’s so important. The free event’s 150 tickets were snapped up within days of their launch.
“We were surprised and thrilled with just how much interest there was,” says Triodos Renewables Director Matthew Clayton. “Open days at our other sites have been popular in the past, but this was the first at our Avonmouth wind farm. We really weren’t sure how many families would be up for spending their morning at a sewage works.”
“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.”
Triodos Renewables Director Matthew Clayton
As sewage works go, the Wessex Water site is exceptional. While the surrounding landscape is dominated by industrial development, the turbines stand within a nature reserve. The reserve supports some important plant and animal species including great crested newts and voles, which Triodos Renewables worked hard to protect during all stages of its stewardship of the land.
Triodos Renewables opened up the doors to the turbines, with a steady stream of enthusiastic and curious visitors learning how they work; how they constantly respond to the changing wind conditions and how they’re connected to the national grid so they can power 4,600 homes with green electricity every year. “Children 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,” says Clayton.
As well as the tours, the family friendly activities included an interactive science show from Explorer Dome and the Wind Farm Game, which let people pick their favourite spot for a wind farm. Clayton continues “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.
“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.”
The event culminated with the wind farm’s official opening by Bristol’s elected Mayor, George Ferguson. He said, “I think that something that is doing something so beneficial, in terms of giving us all clean energy, cleaner air and making our lives better, looks beautiful at the same time. “It’s great for Bristol and the UK that Triodos Renewables have seen fit to make this important investment in wind power at Avonmouth which, together with our own city council funded turbines and those at Bristol Port, make a significant contribution to the region’s alternative energy supply.”
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