Monthly Archives: December 2012

Energy and Climate Questions to the Mayor

December 2012: This month the Mayor has been asked questions in relation to: the delay in the publication to the Mayor’s evaluation report of his home energy efficiency programme, RE:NEW;  a response to the recent report that London experienced the largest increase in the number of Excess Winter Mortality of any region; the number of low carbon and renewable energy installations installed in fire stations currently threatened with closure; on the Mayor’s recent statement that the “energy policy of the country is in chaos“; the Deputy Mayor’s views on renewable energy; the representation of decentralised energy generators on the Mayor’s High Level Electricity Working Group; the Energy Bill and its support to the attainment of the Mayor’s 25 per cent decentralised energy target

Progress on the Mayor’s DE targetCHP capacity in London; TfL arrangements to secure electricity supply for the London Underground ; TfL energy costs; TfL procurement of electricity from London-based low carbon and renewable energy generators
progress being made under the London Energy Efficiency Fund (LEEF); the UK’s attractiveness to clean energy investment; discussions with energy companies over recent price hikes; a London target under the Energy Company Obligation (ECO)
job losses in the insulation industry in London; Mayor’s liaison with the Insulation Industry Forum; the slow take up under the Green Deal and the January launch of the Green Deal; London bid to the Green Deal Pioneer Places fund and here.

Energy efficiency improvements linked to home extensions and conversions; the 2018 energy efficiency requirement for the private rented sector (and here); that there will be no zero carbon homes developed on the Greenwich Peninsula; checks on the standard of work completed under the RE:NEW programme; future energy consumption related to London’s future population growth; the anticipated energy output from the 25 decentralised energy schemes currently being supported by the Mayor; funding directed to the Mayor’s decentralised energy programme; papers from future meetings of the Mayor’s High Level Electricity Working Group; and the potential for anaerobic digestion in London and the number of future AD plants in London.

Previous months questions to the Mayor can be found here.

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Government Policy on generation of electricity by local authorities

17 December 2012: John Pugh, MP for Southport, has asked a useful parliamentary question around what the Government’s position is on promoting the generation of electricity by local authorities. Apparently it has one.

Col 534W: John Pugh: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what his policy is on the generation of electricity by local authorities; and if he will make a statement.

Gregory Barker:  In 2010, we gave local authorities the power to sell electricity generated from renewable sources. It is therefore up to local authorities to generate and sell electricity if they wish and we are encouraging them to do so where this is appropriate. We have also facilitated this through ‘lite’ electricity supply licence, which would allow a local authority district heating operator to sell electricity at retail rates to consumers.

We are also supporting community ownership of localised renewable energy projects through the Feed-in-Tariffs scheme. Local projects engage neighbourhoods and communities in becoming involved with generating local heat and power e.g. Combined Heat and Power with District Heating (CHP-DH) networks in Woking, Southampton, Nottingham and Sheffield.

Local authorities also have a role in encouraging energy efficiency take up, including the Green Deal, and looking after consumer interests, for example, through the pioneer places and core cities initiatives and through supporting or running collective switching schemes.

Some points on this:

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FIT: Draft Guidance for Community Energy and School Installations

December 2012: Ofgem draft guidance document, open for consultation. It provides specific guidance for solar PV community energy and school installations on how to benefit from provisions available for the FIT scheme.

Further information on community energy and school installations can be found in the following DECC FIT FAQ document and the latest FIT rates here.

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Evaluation of DECC Local Authority Competitions

December 2012: DECC have issued a tender to evaluate a series of competitions they have recently launched and the Invitation to Tender (ITT) document provides some useful information on the background to how the department will measure the success of these three particular schemes – which are:

  • “Fuel Poverty Fund (£25m) The overall aim of the project is to reduce the extent of fuel poverty through the provision of resources to support improvements to the thermal efficiency of dwellings.
  • The Green Deal Pioneer Places Fund (£10m)The primary purpose of the funding is for local authorities (LAs) and/or consortia of LAs (e.g. counties) to demonstrate ambitious approaches to kick starting local Green Deal activity in both the domestic and non-domestic sectors in England.
  • ‘Cheaper Energy Together’ collective switching fund (£5m)The primary purpose of the funding is to support innovative collective switching or purchasing schemes by Local Authorities or third sector organisations which aim to achieve better deals on energy bills for consumers through collective purchasing power.

Applications for the competitions were submitted at the end of November.  We expect the majority of project activity to complete by the end of March. “

The winners have as yet not been announced by Government: Secretary of State Ed Davey did however recently say that  115 applications had been received to “Cheaper Energy Together” competition.

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London Assembly write to Government about Fuel Poverty

December 2012: Following last month’s evidence session (and see here), the London Assembly Health and Environment Committee  has written to the Mayor, Department for Energy and Climate Change and energy companies about fuel poverty and domestic energy efficiency retrofit. The Committee’s correspondence can be seen here.

Writing to Minister for Energy Greg Barker, the Committee say: “The Committee would also like to know what lessons you are taking from the experience of CERT and CESP (and other programmes such as the GLA’s RE:NEW) for the Green Deal and ECO, and in particular for achieving better take-up and delivery in London. These new programmes provide an excellent opportunity to redress the previous imbalance and to show DECC’s commitment to fair delivery in London.”

The Committee quiz the Mayor over future proposals for the RE:NEW programme, asking “the Committee would like information on whether and how the plans it has heard are compatible with any further down-scaling of the annual GLA resource allocated to the programme. Your Deputy referred the Committee to the ECO funding stream but this is, we understand, for the retrofitting work itself. Is it expected to support GLA front-end activity, promotion or pipeline assembly? He also referred to a team of 90 staff within the Housing and Land Directorate, including staff transferring from the Homes and Communities Agency. The Committee would be interested to hear what quantum of staff time, and what other resource, will be allocated to RE:NEW work in 2013/14.”

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Barking Collective Energy Switching Scheme

17 December 2012: Barking and Dagenham news release  highlighting how the council is developing a collective purchasing (or switching scheme)  which, from 2013 will allow: “Residents  to sign up to the scheme for free in January. In February a broker will negotiate a special tariff direct with the major energy companies. Because a number of customers are buying at the same time, the price negotiated will be lower than most tariffs available on the market place.” Full details here. DECC have supported such schemes including a £5m ‘Cheaper Energy Together’ competition launched last month.

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South Bank Decentralised Energy Scheme Proposed

14 December 2012: There were several news reports this week (here, here and here) that plans have been released to redevelop the area around the Shell Centre on the South Bank which include mention of an onsite ‘energy centre’.

The developer’s press release goes on to say that “The system will be designed to interconnect with a district heating network being explored for the wider South Bank area.” This is referring to a study undertaken in 2009 looking at the potential for an area-wide decentralised energy heat network connecting new and existing buildings along the South Bank, which was undertaken by London South Bank University for the South Bank Employers’ Group (SBEG).

The planning application is to be submitted to Lambeth  before Christmas. Some additional information on the South Bank Master Plan is posted here and on the Shell Centre Dialogue here.

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London Housing and Community Heating Presentations

December 2012: Three talks focused on communal heating were presented at the recent National Housing Federation ‘London Development Conference. The series of ‘go on, go green’ slides – downloadable here – contain some useful information:

  • Sam Hunt of BSSEC sets out some really clear slides on the design approach for heat mapping, as well as issues that need to be considered when implementing district heating and CHP. Worth a look.
  • Robert Greene of a2dominion housing association states that they have a 6,000 home development pipeline over the next 5 years, of which 70% will use communal heating systems
  • Results from an ongoing G15 – Communal Heating Research Project are also presented (G15 group – consists of London 15 largest Housing Associations) and highlight that there are currently 134 Schemes with Communal (Decentralised) heating. Much more very useful info is touched upon from the research, however the final results from this will not be published until April/May 2013. See the slides for the full information (slide 28 onwards).
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FAQs on ECO Brokerage

December 2012: Further to the ECO Brokerage consultation document issued earlier this week, DECC have now issued an ECO Brokerage FAQ briefing.

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Survey of commercial property investors’ views on sustainability

December 2012: Interesting report from independent commercial property adviser GVA who have issued their latest annual survey of commercial property investors’ views on sustainability. Points to note from the report include:

  • It is only five years to go before the EPC minimum energy performance standards kick-in (for both domestic and non-domestic properties). In accordance with The Energy Act 2011, by April 2018, it will become illegal to let residential or commercial properties that do not meet a minimum energy performance standard. The government have announced their intention to use an EPC rating of E as the minimum standard. This could have very significant implications for landlords and property investors alike with currently a fifth of commercial properties below this standard.
  • This latest survey indicates an increased emphasis on the importance of sustainability in property, despite the significant economic challenges that remain. However it will still do little to convince industry critics that the current trajectory of improving property stock will meet Government deadlines.
  • The survey shows a trend between 2007 and 2012 of investors placing increasing importance on sustainability factors within their acquisition and disposal decision making.
  • The report also stated that only a third of survey respondents believe the current poor market conditions have caused a lessening of importance towards sustainability issues by investors.

Download GVA’s ‘Green to Gold’ research report here.

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Are EPCs a true indicator of energy efficiency?

December 2012: Jones Lang LaSalle with the Better Buildings Partnership have issued the output of some interesting work they have undertaken: “Using data gathered from over 200 buildings over the past four years, we’ve measured the actual energy performance of BBP members’ managed properties in London with surprising results…There is little or no correlation between EPC ratings and actual energy performance”. This is something often raised by EPC assessors, and so it is useful to get this comprehensive research confirming this view.

The report concludes that:
“If the commercial property industry is to succeed in achieving the Government’s ambition of cutting the associated CO2 emissions of the built environment, it is imperative for the industry, backed by Government direction, to focus on actual energy performance rather than just ‘design intent’. We have shown that there is little or no correlation between a building’s design (as measured by its Energy Performance Certificate) and its actual consumption.
The BBP members’ portfolios achieved a reduction in the associated CO2 emissions of 8% and made a saving of more than £4 million in energy bills, between 2009/2010 and 2011/2012. If the level of success achieved by BBP members were applied to the total existing office stock of Greater London, savings could be in the order of £70 million.”

Somewhat disappointingly, the publication of this research was very shortly followed by the following news report from the Government Minister overseeing this policy concerning extending the coverage of EPCs:

U-turn over compulsory energy assessments for commercial buildings
“Correspondence from building regulations minister Don Foster, confirms that plans for compulsory display energy certificates (DECs) for the private sector have been dropped. Instead, the commercial sector will be required to obtain less stringent energy performance certificates, which measure projected energy use. Display energy certificates, which measure a property’s actual energy performance, are already compulsory for public buildings.”

Continue reading…

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Mayor to encourage energy efficiency in the private rented sector

13 December 2012: The Mayor has today published a new ‘London Rental Standard’ where- the press release states – he “has called for the establishment of a new deal with landlords, letting agents and tenants based around a voluntary and transparent ‘London Rental Standard’ (LRS), which will be consulted on with the industry and launched next year by the GLA.”

Today’s publication, ‘The Mayor’s Housing Covenant: Making the private rented sector work for Londoners’, sets out the Mayor’s proposals for improving private renting for Londoners. Included in there are commitments that:

  • The Mayor has three principal objectives for improving the private rented sector (PRS) in London which includes promoting standards through improving the energy efficiency of the stock.
  • To do this the Mayor will work with government and energy providers to ensure that the Green Deal works for London’s PRS
  • The Mayor has also committed (para 2.3) to address fuel poverty and encourage more landlords to take advantage of energy efficiency programmes.

The report goes on to say (page 33) that:
Improving energy efficiency
In terms of energy efficiency the PRS tends to perform well compared with other tenures but there is still significant room for improvement. In 2010/11, the average SAP rating for private rented homes in London was 57.3, worse than in social housing but better than in owner occupied properties and better than the national average for the PRS. The latter is probably explained by the larger share of flats in London’s PRS compared with elsewhere (flats are generally more efficient than houses).

From 2016, landlords will not be able to unreasonably refuse requests from their tenants for consent to undertake energy efficiency improvements where they can be funded by the Green Deal, and from 2018 all private rented properties must be brought up a minimum efficiency standard.” The latter requires all private rented properties (domestic and non-domestic) should be brought up to a minimum energy efficiency standard rating, likely to be set at EPC rating “E”. Further information on DECC’s website here.

Appendix 1 of the document contains the draft London Rental Standard and the energy commitment goes no further than the rather disappointing standards set by Government in the Energy Act 2011 stating that “landlords must work towards compliance with duties imposed upon them by the Energy Act 2011, especially related to requests for energy efficiency improvements by tenants and in relation to low ratings in energy performance.” The Mayor should instead look to bringing in the recommendations on PRS energy efficiency made by a coalition of organisations during the passage of the 2011 Energy Bill.
Any  feedback on the contents of the Housing Covenant paper need to be sent to the GLA by 15 February 2013.

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