Air Quality implications of the London Energy Plan

April 2016: Think tank Policy Exchange has produced two reports over the past few months on London’s air quality crises (Up In the Air: How to solve London’s air quality crisis – Part 1 and Part 2). Though the bulk of the two studies are concerned with pollutants from the transport sector, the issue of emissions from London’s growing decentralised energy generation capacity also come under consideration.

Part 1 suggests that London’s support of decentralised energy systems, based around the GLA’s focus on the growth of gas fired Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant, may exacerbate London’s air quality problems:

  • The models also do not fully reflect the ongoing growth in decentralised power generation across London, including Combined Heat and Power (CHP). Decentralised energy is being promoted both by national government and the GLA, and there is now 195MW of CHP capacity across London (ranging from small units in homes to large units in industrial premises). Projections show that gas combustion in buildings could be responsible for 48% of NOx emissions by 2025 in Central London.14 There is a risk that measures to promote decentralised energy could increase local NOx emissions. [p7]

Part 2 goes on to recommend the following:

  • We have also identified a risk associated with the growth of “decentralised energy” in London. Decentralised energy is being promoted by the GLA and DECC as a means to reduce carbon emissions and ensure security of supply. However, certain forms of decentralised energy produce significant NOx emissions, for example small scale gas and diesel engines, biomass boilers and CHP (Combined Heat and Power) installations. We recommend that the next Mayor of London reconsiders London’s Climate Change and Energy Strategy to reconcile the potential conflict between decentralised energy and air pollution. We also recommend changes to national energy policies led by DECC in order to resolve potential conflicts with local air pollution. [p8]

The issue of CHP and air quality has been looked at before, highlighted by campaigning group Clean Air London, and through guidance issued by the City of London and Environmental Protection UK

Hence, it is interesting to note that the GLA have recently approved “expenditure of up to £30,000 to procure and appoint consultancy services   to model the air quality implications of the first four [London Energy Plan]  energy plan scenarios... This study will deliver:
•    A report detailing findings and recommendations
•    Spatial maps showing the concentration of air pollutants estimated from the emissions rates of the heating technologies considered in the LEP.
•    The dispersion of the air pollutants concentrations within the local area from the sources for four scenarios considered within the LEP.”

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London, The Environment and the Low Carbon Economy

March 2016: The Aldersgate Group held an event on 3 March entitled ‘The Mayoral Election: London, The Environment and the Low Carbon Economy‘. A summary of the evening’s discussions are not posted on their website – however – they been emailed around. I’ve reproduced the content of that email below.

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New Ideas for London

April 2016: A further contribution of potential actions for an incoming Mayor – this time by Arup – in report just published ‘New Ideas in London‘. In the report Arup identify “five areas that the new Mayor should focus on during their first term in office.” Amongst these are a couple considering energy and climate issues – a summary of which follow below:

Driving down corporate carbon emissions

  • The Mayor has the authority to help adjust London’s procurement protocols to include corporate carbon performance.
  • The new Mayor could immediately commission a consultation led by the GLA’s Head of Legal and Procurement to investigate legislative options.

Electric bus battery switch scheme

  • Could London work with existing suppliers to design buses that allow their batteries to be switched out quickly and smoothly without disrupting operations? This could take place at optimum points on the network and could ensure that operations are not penalised by the time it takes to charge bus batteries.

Other areas of interest include ‘A London Blue Grid’ and ‘Walking in a Green London’.

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The UK’s first solar bus shelter opens in Canary Wharf

11 April 2016: “The UK’s first solar power generating bus stop has been opened in Canary Wharf. Designed by Polysolar Ltd it is made with transparent photovoltaic glazing, which captures the sun’s rays even in low light. It was unveiled on Friday, April 8, outside the HSBC building in Canada Square by London Mayoral candidate Sian Berry.” Read the full story in The Wharf  – with more on this story at Gizmag.

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Sutton Decentralised Energy Network Tender

April 2016:   Sutton Council have recently issued a tender to support a planning application “for the construction of district heating pipes on behalf of the Authority” (specification here). Opportunity Sutton highlight how the “project will utilise waste heat from the proposed Beddington Energy Recovery Facility (ERF) and existing landfill gas engines, both of these are owned by Viridor.” Further details are available in the following brochure.

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“Sales of electric cars soar 85% amid fear over pollution”

8 April 2016: The Evening Standard reports that “Hundreds more Londoners are buying electric cars as the scale of the capital’s air pollution problem is laid bare, official figures reveal today. They show a jump of more than 22 per cent in electric cars, including hybrids, registered in the city in the first three months of the year, nearly 800, compared with 650 in the first quarter of 2015. In the South-East, the rise was a huge 84.9 per cent, from 1,632 to 3,019.” EV sales data is available on the SMMT’s website – but not on a regional basis.

“The number of electric cars registered in London has jumped from 61 in the whole of 2010 to a total now over 5,000. More charging points are being installed under the Source London scheme.” Read the full story here.

Proposals to make London “the electric vehicle capital of Europe” were set out last summer by the Mayor in TfL’s Ultra Low Emission Vehicle Delivery Plan – which contains details on work to support the growth of EVs and EV charging infrastructure.

London was recently awarded £13 million to create ‘Neighbourhoods of the future’ prioritising ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs) in several boroughs across the capital:

  • Proposals include over a dozen streets in Hackney going electric with charging infrastructure such as car-charging street lighting, while Harrow will develop a low emission zone offering parking and traffic priority to owners of plug-in vehicles
  • Westminster Council already provides free parking for ULEVs and London’s proposal aims to deliver 70,000 ULEVs sold by 2020 and almost quarter of a million by 2025

To help private plug-in vehicle owners offset some of the upfront cost of the purchase and installation of a dedicated domestic recharging unit, the Government is running the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme. New guidance on this scheme was issued by Government last week.

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Nearly three quarters of Londoners want next Mayor to back solar

11 April 2016: Results of a Greenpeace poll published today – “A poll of 1007 people carried out by Mora consulting found that 73.2% of Londoners (and 70% of undecided voters) thought it was either very or quite important that the next mayor take steps to make London a leading city for solar power.” Read the full story on the results here.

This builds on a report published by Greenpeace UK – undertaken by Energy for London – on potential London solar initiatives for an incoming Mayor.

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New London Housing SPG Published

April 2016: Somewhat hidden away on the GLA website (as most things are at the moment…) is a new supplementary planning guidance (SPG) on housing, published a few weeks ago. A detailed history on the lengthy consultation process behind this SPG and its relationship to the London Plan and other key GLA documents is helpfully set out at the designingbuildings wiki, which is worth checking.

The SPG includes a series of housing ‘Standards’ which stem from the policies contained in the London Plan’s Climate Change chapter, with the SPG providing further specific guidance on implementing these policies. Standard 35 is of particular importance, as it is concerned with the London’s Plan requirement for zero carbon development: this issue has had a long and complex history – with the SPG’s confirming that new housing development in London will need to be zero carbon from October 2016 is significant – which is covered in further detail in another post here.

The SPG also refers to action to mitigate ‘overheating’ in new homes in Standard 36 (linked to Policy 5.9 of the London Plan) stating that new “housing needs to be designed for the climate it will experience over its life, taking into account predicted climate change, the potential for summer heat waves, London’s urban heat island effect and the limits of thermal comfort of future residents”. 

The GLA’s Preparing Energy Assessments guidance document has also been expanded and updated in line with these changes in the Housing SPG (with a new section 5 entitled ‘Implementation of zero carbon homes (from 1 October 2016)’ added) and is available to download here (or download from this website here).

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Major London housing development to be zero carbon from October 2016

April 2016: As highlighted in an earlier post – the GLA have just issued new London Housing Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) and Energy Planning Guidance which sets out the carbon targets for new residential developments in the capital following the government’s announcement last year to scrap its zero carbon homes policy.

Full detail follows below – but a helpful summary is provided in the GLAs new Energy Assessment Planning Guidance (page 12) on the key takeaway –  new carbon targets:

Stage 1 schemes received by the Mayor up until 30 September 2016 – 35% below Part L 2013 for both residential and commercial development.

Stage 1 schemes received by the Mayor on or after the 1st October 2016 Zero carbon (as defined in section 5.3 of this guidance) for residential development and 35% below Part L 2013 for commercial development

Over the past few months, the Mayor has referred to keeping London’s zero carbon homes policy through a number of responses to Mayoral Questions (see references below). This new Housing SPG is however the first official GLA document which confirms the process for how the zero carbon policy is to be implemented. The full text from the SPG on Zero Carbon Homes follows below – with some accompanying  analysis:

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Mayoral manifestoes energy and climate proposals

April 2016: With the publication last week of the manifesto of the Liberal Democrat’s Caroline Pidgeon, all four major London Mayoral candidates have now set out their proposals in relation to energy and climate if they were to become Mayor. I’ve produced a  summary of these proposals, across various categories of interest, in the following document.

The first thing to notice is the welcome inclusion of energy and climate proposals across all manifestoes: a wide number issues are addressed, but some common themes do emerge:

  • The first – and most significant – pledge around energy to emerge from the manifestoes is that all four main candidates have set out their intention to establish a new London government based energy business.  Zac Goldsmith references the work that Boris has taken forward  over the past few years in advancing Licence Lite – but states he “will go further to set up ‘Energy for London – a new clean energy company'”. Sadiq Khan will establish ‘Energy for Londoners’ and both Caroline Pidgeon and Sian Berry state the will establish a new London energy company  – Sian saying that this new business concern will be linked to Transport for London (the detail of which has been previously set out in a Jenny Jones commissioned report).
  • Worryingly, no candidate commits to working to achieve two long standing London climate targets: the 60 per cent 2025 carbon reduction target and the 25 per cent 2025 decentralised energy target.
  • All candidates are keen on electric cars, with Zac Goldsmith pledging to introduce Paris’s Autolib electric car rental scheme to London – something Boris has talked about doing since 2009.
  • There are warm words for support for developing community energy projects in London – with most detail set out in Zac Goldsmith’s manifesto.
  • Sian Berry and Zac Goldsmith haven’t given up on the Green Deal model – both propose to investigate a London pay-as-you-save energy efficiency retrofit initiative. Caroline Pidgeon interestingly supports working with London councils to introduce a ‘consequential improvements’ policy – a proposal that Government scrapped back in 2012 – a decision which significantly contributed to the eventual demise of the Green Deal.
  • All candidates support increasing the number of solar power installations in London with Caroline Pidgeon and Zac Goldsmith committing to specific targets – PV capacity equivalent to 200,000 homes/750MW/a 10 fold increase in solar – all of which amounts to around the same thing (see Greenpeace’s London solar report) which has contributed to candidates consideration on the future of solar in the capital.

All in all, it’s massively encouraging that energy concerns and their relevancy to the future of London have been recognised across all main manifestoes. Issues such as reducing the city’s contribution and response to climate change, increasing energy affordability, and  accelerating the deployment of measures to enhance energy efficiency and decentralised energy are promoted by all candidates, which gives confidence that GLA programmes in place, such as RE:NEW, RE:FIT, DEPDU and others will continue to be supported by an incoming Mayor.

Some omissions from the manifestoes which it would have been good to have seen including advancing smarter energy initiatives (such as building on the work the GLA are doing with Tempus Energy and Kiwi Power), addressing potential energy security of supply issues in the capital (an issue previously raised by the Mayor and an area of GLA activity through the Mayor’s High Level Electricity Working Group), energy efficiency in the commercial building sector (a significant and difficult issue for Mayor, with next to no regulatory powers over existing buildings…), and how new sustainable energy activities going forward will be financed.  However – despite these concerns – this has been a great start providing much to build upon!

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London Greens announce ‘red lines’ for Mayoral 2nd preference endorsement

March 2016: London Green Party members have thrown down the gauntlet to Zac Goldsmith and Sadiq Khan, as they lay out their four ‘red line’ policies either candidate must back before Greens officially give them their 2nd preference support for May 5th. Read the full report at the BrightGreen website here.

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DSR project in Hillingdon

March 2016: EDIE reports that “Building materials supplier Hanson UK is pioneering a demand-side response approach to energy management, with the technology being rolled out to 29 of the company’s quarries across the country” including Hanson’s West Drayton Asphalt Plant in the London Borough of Hillingdon.

“The London-based firm, which employs around 3,500 people, has partnered with demand-response aggregator Open Energi to install the ‘Dynamic Demand’ system at 14 of its sites, with another 15 installations planned through a phased rollout.

“Using the demand side response technology, tanks and pumps used to dewater Hanson’s quarries will be able to reduce their energy consumption when UK energy demand exceeds supply, and increase consumption when supply exceeds demand.”

Further information can be read on Open Energi’s website.

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