Bristol City Leap, a 20-year joint venture between Bristol City Council, Ameresco and their subcontractor Vattenfall Heat UK, has refreshed its commitment to decarbonising Bristol after publishing its £750m five-year business plan, including a plan to create 1.000 jobs – all paying at least the Real Living Wage. The plan would bring the total investment in the city since Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, signed the deal in 2023, to £771 million by 2029.

The plan, which covers the period from 2024 to 2029, includes a path towards attracting over £100 million of expected additional delivery in the city from the initial projections made in 2023.

Progress to date

Since launching in January 2023, Bristol City Leap has laid strong foundations, creating a substantial pipeline of decarbonisation projects and working with key local organisations, commercial partners and communities – all the while generating major social value for the city. This includes major progress on some of the first projects to come forward in the past year:

  • Solar panels, heat pumps and insulation upgrades have been delivered to over 200 low-income households in Bristol through the Bright Green Homes
  • Expansions and new building connections for the Bristol Heat Network, operated by Vattenfall Heat UK. The network now serves commercial and residential buildings with enough heat to supply the equivalent of more than 5000 homes. Further connection agreements are signed, and once connected will provide enough heat to supply the equivalent of more than 1000 homes.
  • A new Air Source Heat Pump installed at Blaise Primary School replacing gas boilers.
  • Proposals for three new large-scale solar power and wind power sites in Avonmouth.

Five-year business plan

But that is only the very beginning – investment goals set out in the new business plan would represent an exponential transformation in Bristol. Over the next five years, Bristol City Leap plans to deliver a major infrastructure roll-out across the council’s corporate estate and social housing, further develop the Bristol Heat Network, operated by Vattenfall Heat UK, and deliver a range of large-scale renewables projects.

Infrastructure roll-out: Bristol City Leap plans to deliver city-wide EV charging points, a social housing retrofit project including 167 homes and nine tower blocks, clean energy sources for schools across Bristol, and energy efficiency measures on the council’s corporate estate.

Heat network: In the coming months, Bristol City Leap will continue to develop the Bristol Heat Network, adding connections to local businesses and buildings in several areas across the city. From 2026, the construction of the strategic heat main, a key element of Bristol’s heat network, is expected to enable exponential roll-out of low-carbon heating to businesses and communities.

Renewables projects: Bristol City Leap recently submitted proposals for three possible sites in the Avonmouth area suitable for hosting solar and wind energy projects. The chosen locations are being evaluated by Bristol City Council. Once initial viability has been established, local people will be invited to share their views.

The partnership is also exploring the availability and viability of further sites suitable for clean energy projects with Bristol City Council and with other public sector, commercial, and industrial organisations in Bristol and the West of England.

By 2028, this activity combined is expected to see the partnership deploy nearly 200MW of low carbon energy generation infrastructure, enough to power around 70,000 homes, whilst reducing Bristol’s total carbon emissions by approximately 140,000 tonnes.

Social value

Bristol City Leap is an initiative with social value at its heart. In the last year over £6.5 million of social value has been delivered in Bristol, creating over 100 jobs and work placements in the Bristol area, bolstering the local supply chain where every employee is paid at least the Real Living Wage and launching a £1.5 million Bristol City Leap Community Energy Fund. This social value delivery is 55% above the target set for the partnership’s first year of operation and includes:

  • £3 million spent with local suppliers to support the local economy.
  • Over 50 weeks of work placements and work experience.
  • Contributions of over 350 volunteer hours working to improve local communities.

Mark Apsey MBE, Senior Vice President for Ameresco UK and Managing Director for Bristol City Leap commented: “Bristol City Leap is a world first, game changing approach to decarbonisation that could provide a scalable and replicable model for other cities to follow.

“City-scale long-term partnerships present us with an unparalleled opportunity to develop place-based energy solutions that help accelerated the transition to net zero whilst contributing significantly to society through local job creation, education, warmer homes and much needed funding to support our communities.  We are proud to be part of this initiative and look forward to working with everyone in Bristol to shape this green transformation with people, businesses and communities across the city. We’ve been overwhelmed by the positive response received during our first year.”

Marvin Rees OBE, the Mayor of Bristol, said: “Bristol City Leap is going from strength-to-strength, adding to the £100 million decarbonisation investment already made by our administration before securing this world-first partnership. This is a big deal for Bristol. Bristol City Leap will help attract almost three-quarters of a billion pounds in investments into our city by 2029 – to create 1,000 new jobs and to eliminate around 150,000 tonnes of emissions.

“And Bristol City Leap is a big deal for Bristolians. In its first year, Bristol City Leap has delivered £4 million worth of energy efficiency measures for low-income households in our city – helping people cut their bills during the continuing national cost of living crisis. On top of that, Bristol City Leap is now inspiring other places, with government support, to look at our model for using clean energy to help build a city where nobody is left behind.”

A summary of the business plan can be found via the Bristol City Leap website here: Bristol City Leap’s 2024/25 Business Plan Summary