Solar PV at the Tobacco Factory

Solar-focused open afternoon for community energy projects

8 August 2011

Around 25 people attended a CSE-organised talk on community-scale solar PV at Bristol's fashionable cafe/bar/theatre, the Tobacco Factory on 6 August. They represented ten community groups, along with householders and others seeking to find out more about this type of renewable energy.

Attendees were also treated to a roof-top tour of the Tobacco Factory's solar array, a 25.3kWp PV system which is 'the largest renewable energy system of any arts organisation in the region'. It's an impressive array, and offers great views over the city (see photos). The panels cover 164m2 of the roof space and will contribute over 33% of the theatre’s total energy requirements.

The day included sessions on the survey and installation processes, solar PV suitability and considerations, the feed-in tariff and the importance of insulation, and the Tobacco Factory's experience of the installing and using PV. CSE's James Mullen and Danni Barrett, along with five local solar installers, was on hand for expert advice and a lively Q&A.

And we've had lots of positive feed-back from people who came, including an attendee who wrote:

"Just to say thanks for a great event - lots of food for thought. I will feed back to my group in taunton in due course and pass on the info about things to think about. The trip on the roof to see the solar panels was great and what a view across Bristol!"

For more about CSE's training for communities in our local area (Bristol, Bath, Somerset, South Glos) click here.

Click here for our advice leaflet on feed-in tariffs, and here for our leaflet on rent-a-roof schemes.

For useful downloads for community energy projects, click here.

Altereco was one of the installers present at the Tobacco Factory. This company is currently running a competition for communities who can win a free 2kw, 9-panel solar PV system worth £9,000. Details will be available soon on, but you can also contact

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