Monthly Archives: July 2013

HNDU and Heat Networks

July 2013: DECC’s recent publication ‘Summary evidence on District Heating Networks in the UK’ highlights that extent that London dominates the regions in relation to the use of district heating. The report sets out that “London has over half the heat networks in the UK (55%) with two thirds (65%) being small”. Table 5 from the evidence paper (copied below) provides some additional detail:

To take forward the Government’s 2012 Future of Heating Strategy, a series of actions were set out in a further report published earlier this year – The future of heating: meeting the challenge which includes a major chapter on heat networks. Not suprisingly, London is featured prominently with examples of recent activity on developing decentralised energy networks in Islington, the Upper Lea Valley, the Olympic Park and Stratford City, as well as the heat network installed in The Shard.

The report also highlights how work is being coordinated in London through the DEPDU initiative. Page 55 sets out “in September 2011 the GLA established the Decentralised Energy Project Delivery Unit (DEPDU) to support the London boroughs in bringing forward plans for decentralised energy. The unit, which is staffed by technical, financial and commercial specialists,has focused primarily on developing heat network projects.”

DECC are now seeking to replicate this model through the creation of HNDU.  The ‘meeting the challenge’ paper states that “DECC will support local authorities in developing heat networks by establishing a Heat Networks Delivery Unit (HNDU) within the Department that will work closely with individual authorities’ project teams in England and Wales. DECC will provide funding over two financial years to contribute to local authorities’ costs in carrying out early stage heat network development. This will enable local authorities to bring forward projects to the stage where they are suitable for investment including loan finance from the Green InvestmentBank or commercial lenders.” [p38]

£3m over two years will be committed to HNDU to provide specialist expertise and be a “bridge between the local authority and the market, acting as a ‘critical friend”. The unit will also have a “funding stream of £6m over two years [which] will be available to local authorities. It will contribute to the cost of procuring technical reports and advice on the phases of a heat network’s development.” [p57] The HNDU team held a workshop in  London last week where they set out their likely criteria for how they will judge applications to the fund – see the final slide (slide 12) of the following DECC presentation for full details on this. Attendees to the workshop were also informed that the HNDU team is being finalised at the moment, with an announcement expected shortly on the appointment of a lead Investment Director who will head the unit. Finance is anticipated to become available to local authorities for qualifying projects from this Autumn. Though the HNDU team has set itself a 7-year business plan – funding secured from DECC only lasts until 2015 at the moment.

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Deputy Mayor tours National Grid’s new “electricity superhighway”

July 2013: Deputy London Mayor Sir Edward Lister visited National Grid’s London Power Tunnels construction site in Wandsworth. The project will create a 32km “electricity superhighway deep below the capital”. Read full news release here.  More on the London Power Tunnels project here.

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Are London Health & Wellbeing Boards taking fuel poverty seriously?

July 2013:  The Health and Social care Act 2012 established new Health and Wellbeing Boards for each top tier and unitary authority. These operated in ‘shadow form’ over the period 2012-13 taking on full  statutory functions from April 2013.  The boards have strategic influence over commissioning decisions across health, public health and social care and a new Age UK report has conducted research to “determine whether the newly formed Health and Wellbeing Boards in England are taking fuel poverty as seriously as is needed.”

The  report sets out that : “Every available Health and Wellbeing Strategy published before March 2013 was looked at to determine the influence of fuel poverty on the priorities set by each Health and Wellbeing board. The results are based on the 122 Health and Wellbeing Strategies that were available, and show that

  • More than half of the Health and Wellbeing Boards appear to be side-lining issues surrounding fuel poverty altogether.
  • Only 4% seem to be doing as much as possible to help combat fuel poverty within their local community.
  • Some Boards consider fuel poverty in their community to be decreasing. This could be because they are using figures from 2010, an unusual year when (against the trend) the number of fuel poor households decreased, and before the subsequent round of high fuel price increases. These figures are now outdated and incorrect.”

Each Health and Wellbeing Strategy available was given a rating of between 1 and 5 (indicating poor to excellent respectively).  Of the five example strategies examined and given the worst rating (1), two London local authorities are highlighted – Ealing and Waltham Forest. Worryingly, page 6 of the report sets out the 122 strategies examined, a further 12 London boroughs are rated (1): Barnet, Brent, Bromley, Camden, Hackney, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Islington, Kensington & Chelsea, Lewisham, Merton, Newham.

The City of London, Croydon, Greenwich, Haringey, Harrow, Kingston, Sutton, Westminster are rated (2). Havering and Wandsworth are rated (3). A few boroughs appear to have been omitted from the table on page 6 – but are referenced in the Appendix on page 19. Barking and Dagenham actually scores the highest with a (4), Redbrige a (3), Richmond (2), and Tower Hamlets (1). Strategies for Bexley, Enfield, Hammersmith & Fulham and Lambeth were not available to the survey team. Page 19 also mentions that Southwark’s stategy could not be found.

The results are highly surprising, rating some London local authorities which have significant fuel poverty programmes in place very low (Islington being the most obvious – with its award-winning SHINE programme – which is now also being utilised by Hackney), suggesting that the consultation process that took place to establish these strategies failed to engage properly with relevant officers delivering such services. The Mayor has recently responded to some questions to him regarding his role in raising energy issues to the new Health and Wellbeing Boards – highlighting some recent work undertaken by the London Climate Change Partnership and stating that further guidance ‘bespoke environmental guidance for the 33 health and wellbeing boards in London is curently being drafted (see here and here).  Details of the new London Health Board, also critical to this discussion, can be seen in an earlier post here.

National Energy Action (NEA) held an excellent event earlier this year in Southwark – Achieving public health outcomes on fuel poverty and excess winter deaths – which looked at how health management is being devolved to local authorities and how fuel poverty needs to be integrated in these new strategies. Presentations from the seminar are available here.

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HECA & London

July 2013:  Last year the Government issued new guidance, issued under the Home Energy Conservation Act (HECA), requiring all  (English) local authorities to publish a report by 31 March 2013 setting out their plans to achieve improved energy efficiency. Before looking at how London boroughs responded to this new requirement, it helps to have  a quick look back to how this all came about…

Following a short limited release consultation in June 2012 – DECC published its new guidance on 26 July 2012 for local authorities (or – as the guidance states – to English Energy Conservation Authorities) with Minister Greg Barker stating in the accompanying  press release that:

“This new robust guidance will support and encourage all local authorities to realise the significant benefits of upgrading homes. The Green Deal will be a fantastic tool to help with this, and I look forward to hearing how local authorities are using it to enable people to save energy and money.”

“A well developed report in response to HECA, highlighting key opportunities, will help attract potential funding partners to work with the authority and other local community groups and stakeholders to the benefit of local residents and businesses.”

A Local Government Association briefing note produced shortly after provides some useful background on the guidance requirements.

Continue reading…

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Energy and Climate Questions to the Mayor

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

the Mayor and climate change denial; whether the Mayor will be publishing an update to his Climate Change Adaptation Strategy; if an audit of the London Energy Efficiency Fund (LEEF) will be undertaken; progress under LEEF; promotion of water efficiency measures; commissioning an energy security of supply study for London; the proposed Memorandum of Understanding between the Mayor and energy suppliers; Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) and RE:NEW; confirmation of the single loan provided by LEEF; the Transport for London (TfL) energy strategy; TfL emissions action plan; clarification on the Mayor’s policy on waste incineration; fracking in London; the Mayor’s comments on climate prediction; differences between the Mayor’s comments on climate prediction and the London Climate Change Adaptation; the Mayor’s 2013/14 budget for climate adaptation; TfL climate risks action plan; the Mayor’s work with the insurance industry on building regulations; funding a health sector building to be climate resilient; climate risk information to Health & Well Being Boards; the Mayor’s commitment to look at overheating; work on risks related to flooding and critical infrastructure; flood risk data portal; surface water management plan for London; performance of the Green Deal in London; avoiding future electricity blackouts in London; weather data for London; work on the London Rivers Action Plan;  developing community-led responses to heatwaves in London; buildings in London using cool-roof technology; studies with social housing groups on insulation and overheating; work with CIBSE on overheating in new developments; green roofs in London; helping offset the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect in London; in light of the Mayor’s recent article – whether he will be abandoning Action 5.1 of his Climate Change Adaptation Strategy; an update on the London Drought Plan; the number of schools in London with rainwater harvesting systems; work on an intensive urban greening retrofitting pilot project to manage surface water flood risk; the work of the Drain London Forum; working with communities at flood risk; approved suppliers on the RE:FIT framework; the Citigen CHP scheme;  how the Mayor will stop the Green Deal being a total disaster in London; Job losses in the insulation industry.

Previous months questions to the Mayor can be found here.

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Reporting Climate Change

July 2013: There’s continues to be much debate about climate science in the media – most often by non-climate scientists – including contributions by the Mayor in a recent article “The weather prophets should be chucked in the deep end” (see here and here for details). More recently (14 July) an interview by journalist Andrew Neil with Ed Davey, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, on his BBC show The Sunday Politics, has reignited the debate on the media’s coverage, impartiality and bias on presenting climate change science to the public. Following the programme, there was much debate on statements made by Mr Neil during the show which resulted  in the following  communications: (Initial critique of Sunday Politics show; Andrew Neil response; response to that response!). Mr Davey and DECC have unusually decided to remain silent on the issue since the interview.

As this latest debate on climate science was initiated by a BBC show and Mr Neil’s response is posted on a BBC website, it’s worth looking again at the 2011 BBC Trust review of impartiality and accuracy of the BBC’s coverage of science which, amongst other issues, looked at the corporation’s reporting on climate change. The report was commissioned by the BBC Trust and undertaken by Professor Steve Jones of UCL.

The report interestingly mentions that the BBC has a Climate Change Steering Group [p36 and p67] and includes the following findings:

“A poll carried out by the Cardiff University Understanding Risk Group in early 2010 showed in contrast that one in seven among the British public said that the climate is not changing and one in five that any climate change was not due to human activity. Fewer than half considered that scientists agree that humans are causing climate change. The divergence between the views of professionals versus the public may be seen as evidence of a failure by the media to balance views of very different credibility. The BBC is just one voice but so many in Britain gain their understanding of science from its output that its approach to this question must be considered.

Much of it has been exemplary, with the investigations of Roger Harrabin, its Environment Analyst, in particular following every twist and turn in the argument. The BBC itself has accepted in an internal document that the balance of debate has changed. In an Impartiality Report submitted to the Trust in 2008 the Executive noted that: “The centre ground in climate science has shifted markedly. One main reason for the change in global opinion was last year’s resolution of the most fundamental questions in climate science by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world’s official climate change assessment forum. The IPCC concluded that it is beyond doubt that the climate is warming and more than 90% likely that this has been driven by human activity. Given the weight of opinion building up around the IPCC it makes sense for us to focus our coverage on the consensus that climate change is happening, is serious, but is manageable if tackled urgently…”

Prof Jones’ report goes on to say: “These are welcome words but it is not clear to me that they have percolated through the BBC. The presentational style of some coverage since that Impartiality Report has continued to suggest that a real scientific disagreement was present long after a consensus had been reached. Jeremy Vine’s introduction to a 2010 Panorama makes the point: “What’s up with the weather?”: “Does anyone believe the claims anymore?…A freezing winter and allegations that the scientists have misled us have set the experts at loggerheads”. That antagonistic statement is typical of how the agenda on climate change is sometimes set. It suggests that there are two equally valid points of view that must be sorted out – ten years after consensus had been reached that (whatever the cause) climate change is happening.”

“…The real discussion has moved on to what should be done to mitigate climate change. Its coverage has been impeded by the constant emphasis on an exhausted subject whose main attraction is that it can be presented as a confrontation.

“For at least three years, the climate change deniers have been marginal to the scientific debate but somehow they continued to find a place on the airwaves. Their ability so to do suggests that an over‐diligent search for due impartiality – or for a controversy – continue to hinder the objective reporting of a scientific story even when the internal statements of the BBC suggest that no controversy exists. There is a contrast between the clear demands for due impartiality in the BBC’s written guidelines and what sometimes emerges on air.

“The factual argument, even for activists, appears to be largely over but parts of the BBC are taking a long time to notice.The climate story has lessons about impartiality that could be useful in a wider context. It promotes the essential lesson that science is a process and not a result,that as information grow sits narrative can alter and, occasionally,may even change direction.Uncertainty is part of the system and often means that a discovery can be stated only in terms of probability.Unlike the deniers,scientists accept that they could be wrong. To do so is not to admit that they are dishonest. [pages 70-72]

It’s interesting to note that BBC Chairman Lord Patten reported to the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sports Select Committee only earlier this year that on climate change the BBC  hasn’t “always dealt with the issue as well as we could have done. For example, I will not mention the individuals, but one or two individuals have not been well treated on this issue in the past.” [Q133].

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Affinity Sutton report includes key findings for the Green Deal

July 2013: Housing group Affinity Sutton has issued the final research report – as part of their Future Fit project – which examines the actual energy savings achieved by 150 homes as a result of installing energy efficiency measures. It’s an excellent study with some key findings which will be of important consideration to policy-makers on programmes such as the Green Deal.

The report – FutureFit: Final Report – is downloadable here (and data report here). The conclusions include the following:

  • A fabric first approach does work and residents,on the whole, have felt benefits from living in a retrofitted home.
  • Identifying energy savings was challenging and there needs to be more transparent mechanisms to show energy usage in the home.
  • Electricity use is unpredictable. Adding the GreenDeal charge to the electricity bill will make identifying savings even harder and could result in bad press for the policy.
  • SAP is not an appropriate tool for a PAYS model and could result in negative consequences for three out of four Affinity Sutton residents if they were to take up the Green Deal.

The foreword to the report [p4] by Affinity Sutton’s CEO sets out why the organisation in not utilising the Green Deal at present:

“Very few studies of energy bills before and after retrofitting social housing are in the public domain. This report is a major step forward for the sector in showing how retrofitted properties actually perform and how residents find living with the effects. But it is very much a starting point from which much more investigation is required. And although the results make it clear why Affinity Sutton is not currently supporting the Green Deal in our homes, this report sets out why it is so important to find a way to make it work for the very people who need it most.”

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London’s Electricity Infrastructure

July 2013: A recent meeting of the London Infrastructure Group, part of the London Enterprise Panel (the local enterprise partnership for London) included a paper considering requirements for London’s growing electricity infrastructure.

The paper highlights that “UK Power Networks (UKPN) is London’s main Distribution Network Operator (DNO) for electricity serving all except the London boroughs of Hillingdon, Hounslow and Ealing. Scottish and Southern Energy serve these boroughs. As DNO UKPN’s responsibility extends from the Grid Supply Points where it takes electricity at high voltages from National Grid to the supply of London’s homes and businesses.”

UKPN is currently consulting on its 2015 – 2023 Business Plan which is to be submitted to Ofgem.  Much of the detail around UKPN’s proposals in the Plan have been discussed in recent meetings of the Mayor’s High Level Electricity Working Group and an appendix paper to the London Infrastructure Group meeting considers some key elements of the Plan.

The papers report that the Mayor has raised concerns regarding future investment in London’s electricity distribution infrastructure and that UKPN latest proposals “represent a step backwards regarding the prospects of UKPN investing in advance of need. It gives rise to concern about whether UKPN has taken sufficiently full account of the needs of the City of London and other central London boroughs facing business and development growth. The reason for the backward step is mainly attributable to the intervention of Ofgem” (some of these concerns on future needs were recently raised by businesses in the recent West End Commission report).

Investment in major substations has been reduced from £170 million to £100 million compared to the original draft. UKPN now includes only four of the planned six (plus Earls Court1) major substations for central London on a funded basis (see Table 1 below for details). The origin of the change is principally Ofgem’s unwillingness to accept the remaining three substations as part of UKPN’s regulated asset base, since they would amount to investment by UKPN in advance of an actual connection being requested.

Interesting to note that other changes have been made to UKPN’s forecasts of sustainable energy investment in response to comments to the original consultation. These include changes to the assumptions regarding the uptake of electric vehicles and to the infrastructure investment for Feed–in–Tariff eligible generation.

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Euston Road Energy Centre and District Heating Network

July 2013: After several years building the case, it is hugely positive to see that Camden have now released a tender for a £5.7m  decentralised energy network along Euston Road. The tender document sets out that:

“The London Borough of Camden has identified a cluster of four communally heated estates in Somers Town, Kings Cross, London NW1 which are in close proximity to the Francis Crick Institute, a new major biomedical research facility due to be completed in 2015/16. The aggregated volume of heat and electrical demands for the estates and Francis Crick Institute has been assessed by Arup on behalf of the Decentralised Energy for London programme and is considered to provide an excellent opportunity for a phased decentralised energy network. Full planning consent for a centralised energy centre has been secured and full Cabinet approval has been secured from the London Borough of Camden to procure the project.”

The tender information goes on: “The scheme will be commissioned and delivered in the following phases:

  • Phase 1 – would see a heat only district heating project design, built, operated and maintained for the four estates via a district heating network connected to a central energy centre for which full planning permission has been granted.
  • Phase 2 – Once the Francis Crick Institute (“the Crick”) establishes a sufficient electrical demand (envisaged 2016) and an agreement is reached, Camden Council may commission the installation, operation and maintenance of a c.1MWe CHP unit (indicative size only) at the Phase 1 Energy Centre with a direct electrical connection to the Crick. Upon Phase 2 commission, the CHP system shall then also be the primary source of heat supply to the district heating network installed in Phase 1.
  • Phase 3 – Camden Council intends to extend the network to connect to Council regeneration planned for the wider Somers Town area over the next 4-5 years. This phase will not be procured within this exercise. However, the design and build under Phase 1 will include the expansion capacity to support future district heating demands.

The proposed heat route can be seen on the planning application for the CHP here. An open day will be held for bidders on Monday, 5 August 2013.

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Camden Energy Updates

July 2013: Camden’s Environment Scrutiny Committee met recently where a detailed environment report for the borough was presented. The Green Action for Change annual review provides a pretty exhaustive account of the range of programmes being taken forward in the borough, including the following energy-related actions:

  • Pilot enhanced retrofitting planning guidance for conservation areas adopted for Dartmouth Park and Holly Lodge. Format for new borough wide energy efficiency planning guidance for conservation areas agreed.
  • Euston Road/Somers Town CHP scheme now procurement ready
  • Gospel Oak Heat Network – which uses waste heat from the Royal Free Hospital’s CHP system to heat several Camden housing estates – was connected to 1,427 dwellings, saving an estimated 37,761 lifetime tCO2.
  • Energy masterplan completed for Bloomsbury area, with detailed assessment of British Museum link to university and Great Ormond Street to Tybalds estate
  • Euston Opportunity Area Planning Framework (OAPF) energy masterplan funding secured with completion pending HS2 judicial review.

On the Green Deal and energy efficiency retrofits, the report outlines that: Continue reading…

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Londoners average annual energy bill

17 July 2013: Labour MP for Harrow West Gareth Thomas has asked the following parliamentary question on Londoners typical energy costs.

Mr Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what estimate he or his officials have (a) made and (b) seen of the average annual energy bill for a typical family living in London in (i) 2009-10, (ii) 2010-11, (iii) 2011-12 and (iv) 2012-13; and if he will make a statement. [165934]

Michael Fallon: Average annual household spend on fuel and power in London is shown in the following table. This represents the average actual spend by households, and includes spend on all fuel types:

Year Average annual spend on energy (£)
2009-11 1,082

These data are taken from the Living Costs and Food survey (LCFS), run by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The data are published in the form of three year averages, due to the small sample sizes involved in this survey. The 2009-11 period is the latest for which data is available. The spend data shown are an average for all households, and do not specifically focus on families, as data at this level of detail is not available.

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£80m to invest in London energy efficiency retrofit projects

July 2013: The London Energy Efficiency Fund (LEEF) was established in November 2011 with £100m to invest in energy efficiency retrofit to public sector-owned / occupied buildings. To date one loan has been made to the Tate Modern.

LEEF has just announced that it is now open to offering loans to the private sector also stating that “The £100m fund has £80m remaining to invest in energy efficiency retrofit projects in London by the end of 2015.”

A presentation by the LEEF team to the recent BASELondon conference provides some additional information setting out that loans can be accessed for up to 10 years and interest rates from 1.65% if:

  • You are a public, private or voluntary sector body;
  • Your project is in the Greater London area;
  • Your project contributes to improved energy efficiency through reducing consumption and/or carbon emissions; and
  • Your funding requirement is between £1m and £20m.

The presentation also illustrates (below) how LEEF funding compares to other typical public sector funding opportunities, such as Salix Finance, the Public Works Loan Board (PWLB), the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and the Green Investment Bank – stating that LEEF offers higher affordability and higher availability than all these other funds.

Further information at

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