Monthly Archives: June 2013

“It’s not the Met Office’s fault Boris”

June 2013: As expected, there has been some response to the Mayor’s ramblings on climate change prediction, made earlier this week in his Daily Telegraph column. Somewhat unexpectedly however, some much needed sense and science has been provided by Tom Chivers, a columnist also on the Daily Telegraph! Read It’s not the Met Office’s fault if you wasted money on a swimming pool, Boris’ here. It’s a gentle response…a little less so that Greenpeace who say “let’s be completely clear – Boris is deliberately lying to Telegraph readers.” Shadow Secretary of State for Energy Caroline Flint MP also picked up on the Mayor’s article stating“It is a distraction from the main debate, when we have Conservatives like Boris Johnson saying ‘ditch our climate change targets’ – or that’s what they seem to be saying – because it doesn’t take us forward”.

The Mayor has recently announced that he will be updating his Climate Change Mitigation and Energy Strategy this summer: from the following statement, it doesn’t appear that he will be addressing the issue of sunspot activity and climate change, an issue that exercised the Mayor earlier this year, but perhaps he will take the Met Office to task over their predictions..? The Met Office have regularly had to respond to correct media reports on climate change – see here: however, it doesn’t appear they felt necessary to respond to the Mayor on this occasion.

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Tate Awarded first London Energy Efficiency Fund Investment

June 2013: A recent question to the Mayor helped highlight the first investment made by the London Energy Efficiency Fund. LEEF was established in November 2011 and has £100m to invest in energy efficiency retrofit to public sector-owned / occupied buildings, and has to be fully invested by December 2015.

The fund is a sub-set of the London Green Fund which is itself made up of £50 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), £32 million from the London Development Agency (LDA), and £18 million from the London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB). The European Investment Bank manages the London Green Fund on behalf of the GLA and LWARB. Of the £100 million, £50 million has been allocated to an LEEF which has been match-funded with a further £50m by the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS). An outline of how the fund operates is set out below.

The Mayor responded to a recent question to state that “Over the past year, the London Energy Efficiency Fund has invested £19.8m in the Tate Modern project that includes a range of innovative energy saving measures, including waste heat recovery from a substation. A number of other projects are currently being considered but are yet to be approved for funding.”

The Tate Modern project is the new extension planned for the Bankside gallery – details here – which incorporates a number of innovative energy measures including that it “will draw much of its energy needs from heat emitted by EDF’s transformers in the adjoining operational switch house. With a high thermal mass, frequent use of natural ventilation, and utilisation of daylight, the new building will use 54% less energy and generate 44% less carbon than current building regulations demand.”

Further information is set out in the environmental statement published as part of the Tate’s planning application for the extension here.

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Nuclear heat for London…?!

27 June 2013: The Climate Change Committee released their 4th progress report yesterday. A very useful read – however it does include the following oddity:

“District heating should be based on sources from low-carbon fuels such as biomass. Further work is required to identify the potential for such sources. For example, in the London heat map produced by the Greater London Authority, the primary source was identified as waste heat from nuclear power, but further work is required to determine whether this is viable and the costs and barriers associated with this approach.” [p133]

No – we have no idea what this is about either…!

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Energy and Climate Questions to the Mayor

June 2013: This month the Mayor has been asked questions in relation to:

the Mayor’s ability to help resolve the EU-China solar panel import tariffs conflict; savings achieved by householders going through the Mayor’s home energy efficiency programme RE:NEW; the number of Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) provided under RE:NEW; the number of schemes supported by the London Energy Efficiency Fund (LEEF); an update on the Whitehall and Pimlico District Heating Schemes project; the amount of money spent by the GLA from funds awarded by DECC; the number of retrofits delivered by this funding; and the number of jobs delivered; Greenwich Power Station; Transport for London’s energy strategy; discussions with energy suppliers; the impact of future energy price increases on London’s economy; the RE:FIT in Schools initiative; Sutton incinerator; the RE:NEW evaluation report; Green Deal assessments under RE:NEW; flats treated under RE:NEW; fuel poor houses treated under RE:NEW; solid wall households treated under RE:NEW; the number of pensioner households treated under RE:NEW; TfL’s support for biomethane buses; hybrid buses supported by the Green Bus Fund; carbon and the London Enterprise Panel; carbon and the Growing Places Fund; Whitehall District Heating scheme; research undertaken to develop the London Thames Develoment Gateway Network; research into welfare reform and fuel poverty; jobs and the insulation industry; the number of energy efficiency retrofits carried out under funding; the amount of the £5.6m DECC funding provided to the GLA for energy efficiency funding spent.

Previous months questions to the Mayor can be found here.

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DECC desire Licence Lite across UK

25 June 2013: DECC Minister Greg Minister, during a Guardian Environment Q&A on local energy earlier today, set out his ambitions on where he’d like the ‘license lite‘ activities, currently being tested by the Greater London Authority (GLA), to go:

Responding to the following question:
“Here is Cornwall we would like to develop the concept of a local energy market (through possibly using the licence lite framework) that builds in community benefit through local ownership, generation and supply. Does this concept fit in with your thoughts about the future of energy markets?”
The Minister replied:


“You bet! I want local energy markets to take off just in the way the local food economy is growing. Just as people shop local, eat seasonal and fresh and look to procure with in a certain distance, so I want people to adopt a local mindset for community scale renewables. Hydro schemes, active coppicing for bio fuels (that can help bring local woodland back into active management – great for flowers & wildlife!) solar on community buildings or brown field sites, community heat neworks based on CHP as well as wind and other technologies all have a place.

“Licence Lite is being pioneered now by the GLA but I want to use that learning to be able to roll this out around the country, to allow a new generation of small scale local power producers to cut through the current complex electricity market regulations and sell direct to customers. Cutting red tape and bureaucracy to let in the electricity entrepreneurs is the future!”

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Green Deal Survey Output

25 June 2013: Ahead of Thursday’s (27th) release from DECC of their first detailed quarterly Green Deal statistics, which should include information on the take-up of Green Deal in London, the department have issued a press release highlighting findings from two Green Deal surveys.

Some findings from the Household Tracker Survey include:

  • In Wave 1, which was conducted prior to the official launch of the scheme, awareness stood at 10%. This increased significantly to 19% in Wave 2 and increased further to 22% in the May dip.
  • Despite the increase in Quality Mark recognition there was no increase in the level of reassurance offered by it.
  • The levels of claimed solid wall insulation and loft insulation were considerably higher than DECC’s own estimates, which are derived from official insulation statistics and robust evidence from the English Household Survey. These discrepancies are important as they suggest that there is a lack of awareness and understanding about different types of energy saving improvements which could affect take up of improvements offered under the Green Deal scheme.

Points of interest from the Green Deal Assessment Survey Report include:

  • Paying for an assessment: 85% of respondents said they did not pay for an assessment, with 59% saying the assessor company did not charge a fee and 26% saying it was paid for by a landlord, local authority or other organisation. Eight per cent paid for their assessment in full. [page 10 sets out why so many assessments were at no charge – which is mostly down to incentives being offered by Government earlier this year through the Green Deal Pioneer Places programmes to local authorities]
  • Overall, 64% said they would recommend a Green Deal assessment to a friend.
  • The data tables for the survey highlight that respondents to the questionnaire comprised 83% ‘Owner occupier’; 5% ‘Private rented’  and 12% ‘Social housing’.

Disappointingly, there doesn’t appear to be any breakdown of responses by region – and hence no data on whether assessments/recognition of the Green Deal are stronger in one part of the country than another, and why this might be happening.

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The Mayor’s latest musings on climate change

24 June 2013: The Mayor has turned to the issue of climate prediction in his latest column in the Telegraph. A piece entitled The weather prophets should be chucked in the deep end suggests that “Homeowners lumbered with useless swimming pools know precisely who they should blame”. The piece continues:

“For more than 20 years now, we have been told that this country was going to get hotter and hotter and hotter, and that global warming was going to change our climate in a fundamental way….We were told that Britain was going to have short, wet winters and long, roasting summers.”

“That’s what they said: the BBC, and all the respectable meteorologists – and I reckon there were tens of thousands of people who took these prophecies entirely seriously.”

“They thought they were doing the sensible thing and getting ready for a Californian lifestyle – and they were fools! Fools who believed that the global warming soothsayers really meant what they said or that they had a clue what the weather would be in the next 10 years….and now these so-called weather forecasters and climate change buffs have the unbelievable effrontery to announce that they got it all wrong. They now think that we won’t have 10 years of blistering summer heat; on the contrary, it is apparently going to be 10 years of cold and wet.”

It should be noted that the Mayor has released a comprehensive climate change adaptation plan for London in 2011 which states as a key headline message [p12] that “London has already experienced some changes to its climate and we should expect warmer wetter winters and hotter, drier summers in the future.

The strategy also goes on to sensibly point out that There will be years when summers are wetter, or winters are colder than the predicted trend. This does not mean that the climate change projections are wrong, or that efforts to reduce emissions are working, but it underlines the complexity and natural variability of the climate. Adaptation actions must allow for this variability.” [p27]

A previous article (and see here) penned earlier this year by the Mayor, pontificating over the extended winter weather period London had been experiencing, and its possible relationship to sun spots, elicited a number of critical responses, including one from London Assembly Member Jenny Jones, as well as questions being asked in the London Assembly (here and here).

In contrast to Boris’s purple prose today, it’s interesting to see the comments made at the launch of the New York climate change resilience strategy earlier this month by Mayor Bloomberg:
“Citing the perils of climate change and the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Tuesday called for a sweeping $19.5 billion initiative that would include new coastal protections and zoning codes for the city as well as new standards for telecommunications and fuel provision.“I strongly believe we have to prepare for what scientists say is a likely scenario””.

The report – A Stronger, More Resilient New York – can be downloaded here.

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RAMSES the second (meeting) comes to London

June 2013:  On 24-25 June, LSE Cities hosts the second RAMSES project meeting in London, bringing together representatives from all project partners, providing an update of progress on this collaborative project.

RAMSES (Reconciling Adaptation, Mitigation and Sustainable Development for Cities) is a European research project which aims to deliver quantified evidence of the impacts of climate change and the costs and benefits of a wide range of adaptation measures, focusing on cities. LSE is a project partner within a consortium of thirteen public and private research institutions across eight European countries. The project started in October 2012 and will run until 2017.

RAMSES focuses on adaptation measures at the city-scale, as cities are major centres of population and economic activity and places where climate change impacts may be most acutely felt.

The project will use 8 case study cities to quantify the costs and benefits of adaptation measures. It aims to deliver tools to help city policymakers make decisions about prioritising a wide range of adaptation responses. The RAMSES webpage on London can be seen here.

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RE:FIT re:viewed

June 2013: As part of a study commissioned by DG Energy into the investment potential for energy efficiency in buildings and of the use of financial instruments at national level, a research report and series of case studies has been prepared. The report  ‘Local investments options in Energy Efficiency in the built environment includes reference to the London RE:FIT scheme energy efficiency retrofit scheme targeted at non-domestic public sector buildings. The case studies report provides a detailed outline of the Greater London Authority RE:FIT programme, along with some analysis on how the programmed has fared to date.

Page 9 onwards of the case studies report sets out a ‘RE:FIT project report’

“The delivery framework associated with the RE:FIT programme is a key enabling feature of the programme… RE:FIT allows public sector building owners to procure and implement large scale retrofit programmes up to six times faster than if they were to undertake their own OJEU process for public sector procurement.”

The two concluding parts of the RE:FIT case study section of the report are copied below:

Continue reading…

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London and the Energy Bill

19 June 2013: Points of interest to London in yesterday’s 6-hour second reading of the Energy Bill in the House of Lords included:

  • Lord Teverson’s mention of the GLA’s work on ‘licence lite’One of the unsung things in the energy market is licence lite, which is being explored by the Greater London Authority. It is about small independent producers, in particular community schemes, being able to supply directly through local networks to final consumers at a consumer price, thus not needing subsidy for that energy. I would like to explore how that great initiative—unsung by DECC, I think—can be expanded more quickly and effectively throughout the United Kingdom.
    As I said earlier, it was 2010 when the initial consultation document was produced. We need now to make sure that this Bill gets through this House, gets through it on time and lands on the statute book, so that those investors, however nervous, can invest.” [col 152]
  • A useful intervention by The Lord Bishop of London with the following “I echo many of the points already made in this debate, but I shall not repeat them. At the same time, from a London perspective, with our growing population and increasing demand for electricity, which could be as much as 4% a year, I am also clear that the Mayor’s call for a change in the system which currently prevents distribution network operators from installing more capacity in the network without first receiving a formal request for a connection to the system from individual developers, deserves immediate and urgent attention.
    In the limited time available, I want to focus on energy demand reduction, which an institution in our position has very much at heart. We have been exploring how to improve our own energy efficiency; there has been some success in my own diocese of London, where over a six-year period we have been able to save about 22% of our energy use. But like others, we need the help of government to achieve the next level. My question to the Minister is: will she undertake to amend Clause 37 to bring forward multiple pilot schemes for incentivising a reduction in energy demand, allowing not only for a capital market pilot but a premium payments pilot and enabling ordinary households as well as big business to be rewarded for demand reduction?” [continues – see col 155 onwards]
  • DECC’s Minister in the House of Lords Baroness Verma also responded to a question that “He also asked about the feed-in tariffs from five megawatts to 10 megawatts. I am currently looking at that and I hope to have some further details to impart in Committee.” (see here and here and here for more on why this is particularly relevant for London)
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London Councils Energy Update

June 2013: The Chair’s report to the London Councils ‘Environment and Transport’ Committee, which took place last week, included the following update on the Big London Energy Switch, and a communication from London Councils to the Secretary of State at DECC on the Energy Bill.

Collective Energy Switching
2. The first auction for the Big London Energy Switch (BLES) was held on 9 April, with the switching provider (iChoosr) negotiating on behalf of about 150,000 residents across the country – the highest number of participants in a UK auction of this kind. The BLES secured 26,436 registrations of which 71% were able to save an average £122 per year.

3. The deadline for residents to decide whether they wanted to take up their offer from the auction was 20 May. Initial indications are that about 7% of those that signed up with the scheme accepted their offer, which is close to the proportions for previous collective switching schemes.

4. There will be another auction on 4 June, for which the BLES is doing low-key promotion rather than proactive engagement as for 9 April. However, we are planning another auction in early autumn with additional engagement targeted at signing up vulnerable residents and those in fuel poverty. This will use the remaining DECC funding (currently estimated at around £100k) and any registration fees from the April and June auctions.

5. We have established regular BLES meetings with iChoosr in the run up to the autumn auction to ensure improved liaison and knowledge-sharing and ultimately resident engagement. Our evaluation partner, the Energy Saving Trust, is beginning its evaluation of the scheme and we will build in learning from this for the autumn auction.

Energy Bill
6. Cllr West wrote to the Energy Secretary, Ed Davey, to highlight issues for boroughs on domestic energy tariffs and energy efficiency relating to the Energy Bill. We are now seeking a meeting with officials at the Department of Energy and Climate Change to discuss these.

7. The Bill itself is due to enter the Lords shortly, after having been considered in the Commons, and we are considering what further lobbying activity may be required.

It’s interesting to see that only 7% – or 1,850 households eventually took up the Big London Energy Switch offer – and – as stated – such a percentage is typical of these collective swtiching schemes. The Chair’s note doesn’t say who the provider selected was: it was Sainsburys. The following blog by iharrow. com highlights that the offer didn’t work for everyone – which is to be expected.

As the Chair’s report notes, an evaluation process is currently being undertaken by the Energy Saving Trust – which will be interesting to see – and the output from that will feed into the next auction to take place sometime in the Autumn.

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London Electricity Future Discussions

18 June 2013: In November of last year the Mayor held an Electricity Summit at City Hall where a High Level Electricity Working Group was formed to “discuss the energy systems needed by London over the coming decades and the mechanisms by which the challenges can be met”.  A background paper Delivering an Accessible and Competitive Electricity Network for London was presented as well as a presentation setting out the remit of the Working Group.

The  papers from the first two High Level Group Meetings have now become available and can be downloaded here (15 January) and here (28 March).

The papers for the 15 January meeting set some comprehensive information of key issues and detail the future priorities of the Group including:

  • Identifying growth hotspots and areas of existing network stress that require strategic infrastructure investment
  • the Potential of Decentralised Energy systems, district heating and demand side response measures to reduce electricity distribution infrastructure costs
  • and Estimating costs of investments required and considering models for how they could be met/shared

The March 28 meeting set out a series of action points including that:

“The GLA and UKPN are establishing a sub- group with respective experts to discuss identified Decentralised Energy and demand side response issue identified at the January meeting. It meets for the first time on 3 May. As and when appropriate, the sub-group will report back to the High-level Working Group.”

The third of the Working Group meetings took place today: Sir Edward Lister is standing down from chairing, and the Mayor’s Environment and Political Advisor Matthew Pencharz will attend the Group meetings from today and chair from henceforth.

See here for the Mayor’s response on how renewable generators issues will be represented on the Group.

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