Thrive at 25

Celebrating the past and envisioning the future at Thrive’s 25th birthday party

By Nick Stromberg

2019 marks 25 years in which Thrive Renewables has been connecting people to renewable energy. Last Friday, the celebrations for this exciting anniversary were launched with a two day open day event, in association with Bristol Open Doors, that welcomed over 500 local people to Avonmouth Wind Farm.

Thrive Renewables

The event started with thoughts from some of the leading figures behind the Thrive Renewables mission. After an introduction from Senior Independent Director Charles Middleton, guest speakers Charles Secrett (former Friends of the Earth Director) and Steve Moore (Triodos Bank) reflected on the importance of organisations like Thrive in rising to the varied and complex challenges presented by climate change. Finally, we heard from Thrive Managing Director Matthew Clayton, who reinforced the three core objectives – environmental, economic and social – with which Thrive can continue to build a better, greener future.

Then the real party could kick off! Opening the doors of the Avonmouth Wind Farm gave the local community a unique opportunity to witness how a cutting-edge renewables project operates up close. Adrian, the Operations Manager at Thrive, let guests take a peek inside a working turbine, showing how the forces of nature were actually harnessed to power our everyday lives. Also, other members of the Thrive team were on hand to give talks and answer questions about sustainable energy (did you know that the turbines at Avonmouth produce enough energy to fuel over 5,000 homes for a whole year?) and everyone had the chance to dress up like a turbine engineer – even if just for a photo!

There was also a range of other exhibitions and activities designed to engage visitors with sustainability issues. The Centre of Sustainable Energy presented about some of its recent work (through both the Future Proof and Green Open Homes schemes) in developing a network of low carbon homes. Their interactive model house and insulation displays also helped to show families how retrofitting can make buildings more energy efficient. Meanwhile, the Explorer Dome team produced an amazing visual show around climate change and renewable energy. The immersive experience thrilled adults and children alike in illustrating some of the ways in which decarbonisation can transform our planet.

Overall, the anniversary event provided an ideal chance to celebrate a tremendously successful first 25 years for Thrive Renewables. In this time, its investors have helped shift renewables from a marginal concept – making up just 2% of the UK’s electricity mix in 1994 – to the mainstream. Today, over a third of our electricity is generated renewably.

Crucially, though, MD Matthew Clayton is showing no signs of complacency. Envisioning what the next quarter century of Thrive will hold, he stressed on Friday that ‘…although we have already made significant strides, this is just the start of what we can do to clean up the UK’s energy systems.’ As the sun began to set at Avonmouth that evening, with young families enjoying (delicious Marshfield Farm!) ice creams in the majestic shadows of the turbines, it certainly gave me hope that Thrive would continue to fulfil its pioneering vision of connecting people with renewable energy.

25 years of renewable energy generation in Britain

Written by Nick Stromberg – Nick is currently an intern at the Centre for Sustainable Energy in Bristol. He is particularly passionate about using history to inform our efforts to understand and tackle the climate crisis. Connect with Nick on LinkedIn.

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