Monthly Archives: October 2013

Energy & Climate Questions to the Mayor

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

Climate change leadership; London’s successful ‘green economy”;
potential for wind energy in London; the human contribution to climate change; Nissan Electric taxis‘; emissions from electric vehicles; promoting community energy through planning; Mayor’s briefing to the House of Lords on the Energy Bill; Mayoral visits to the Dagenham wind power project; RE:NEW programme advice on supplier switching; supplier switching advice; Nuclear power and London; bills savings achieved by households under RE:NEW; the Mayor’s energy advisor’s visit to New York; the Mayor’s energy advisor’s visit to Rio de Janeiro; the Mayor’s view on wind farms; London Energy Efficiency Fund (LEEF) Advisory Committee papers; nuclear power value to Londoners; roll-over energy contracts for SMEs; CO2 savings achieved under RE:NEW; the Mayor’s energy advisor’s visit to San Francisco; the Mayor’s view on MASDAR’s investment in the London Array; the Mayor’s view on shale gas; investment opportunities for London through financing wind power projects; hosting a London ‘Climate Week‘; RE:NEW advice supplier switching; renewable electricity supply to the Tube; SOURCE London charging points; London’s need for more electricity substations; completion of Affordable Warmth and Health Action Plan; applications to the London Schools Hydrogen Challenge; budget allocated to the Mayor’s new Affordable Warmth and Health Action Plan; the Mayor’s new Affordable Warmth and Health Action Plan; Londoners supported through the Mayor’s Know Your Rights helpline; GLA officers working on the new Affordable Warmth and Health Action Plan; RE:NEW report backs; Benefit Entitlement Checks (BECs) under RE:NEW; carbon offsets for flights; key activities in the Mayor’s new Affordable Warmth and Health Action Plan; private sector funding leveraged by RE:NEW; targets under the Affordable Warmth and Health Action Plan; community level responses to heatwaves; disseminating research undertaken to date on how to cope with heatwaves and the health impacts of cold homes.

Previous months questions to the Mayor can be found here.

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Rundown on CHP in London

October 2013: Two recent sources issued by DECC provide data on the use uf Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant in London. A useful article in DECC’s latest issue of Energy Trends provides a breakdown of CHP use in the regions, providing number of schemes, output, capacity installed and much more. Table 2 from the article is reproduced below.

The data shows a significant increase in the number of CHP schemes operating in London over the past two years (147 – 255) – a 73% jump – whilst generation capacity has grown by 29MW, reflecting the typically smaller scale nature (ie <1MWe) of CHP engines being installed in the capital. Of concern however is that Table 2B (below) from the article reveals that, though the capacity level of CHP has increased – the key metric – the output of decentralised lower-carbon heat and power in London – has actually fallen over the past two years. CHP electricity generation has fallen by 1% and heat generation by 2% in 2012 as compared to 2010 numbers. More promisingly however, the statistics indicate that the 2012 levels show a recovery a far steeper decline in output over the period 2010 to 2011 – so hopefully CHP is now ‘on the up’… Continue reading…

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Licence Lite Update

October 2013: There has been little news recently on progress being made for the first ‘license lite’ license to  be awarded – however – discussions do continue and below some recent references to the initiative are gathered together.

First, DECC’s Community Energy – Call for Evidence paper published in June 2013 covered the issue stating:

“96. Community renewable electricity projects typically sell their electricity through Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs), whereby an energy supply company agrees to buy electricity from a generator over a fixed period of time at a fixed rate. For community electricity generators it can be difficult to negotiate with large energy supply companies. Aggregators such as Smartest Energy have in the past helped community groups overcome this hurdle. We also recognise that the move from the Renewables Obligation to the Contracts for Difference (CfDs) is a significant one and that the structure of PPAs will need to change, to reflect the changes to the risk profile and the structure of CfDs. The Government has initiated a process to support the market in preparing for the CfD in order to speed this transition and reduce costs.

97. Another route to market for community-generated electricity is Licence Lite, a new form of electricity supply licence, which was proposed by Ofgem in February 2009. The purpose of the licence is to enable smaller scale electricity generators to overcome the costs, risks and complexities of operating in the electricity supply market. If successfully implemented, it will enable them to supply electricity into the retail electricity market and earn a higher market rate than at present for the power they produce.

98. Although no Licence Lite has yet been granted, initial applications have recently been made, including by the Mayor of London, through the Greater London Authority. We hope this will help resolve some of the issues around selling community-generated electricity, and we will be keen to see what evidence comes out of these cases.

And two recent workshops also provided some information on the background to Licence Lite. At Ofgem’s community energy workshop held in September, Ofgem officials provided a short presentation on the basic benefits of being ‘License Lite’. And law firm Nabarro – who have undertaken significant work in this area for the GLA – held an event in July with a strong focus on licence lite where a helpful presentation was provided by the GLA providing information of their work to date and anticipated further actions. Some previous posts also go into further detail.

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London’s secondary heat resource

October 2013: The GLA commissioned a detailed report earlier this year exploring opportunities in London to use high volumes of typically lower-temperature waste heat. Further details on this study – London’s Zero Carbon Energy Resource – can be downloaded here. And a recent presentation made at BRE’s ‘Developing heat networks in the UK ‘ also provides a good summary of some of the findings.

Heat is generated in London’s tube network as a result of trains braking, underground lighting and from passengers. This heat is rejected through ventilated shafts at strategic positions along the network at temperatures ranging typically from 12-29 degrees.

Most secondary heat sources need upgrading to higher temperatures to be useable in heat networks – this requires heat pumps. The minimum suitable temperatures for district heating is 55 degrees. Download the presentation ‘Secondary Heat – London’s Zero Carbon Energy Resourcehere.

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London’s ‘first EfW DH network’

October 2013: A presentation made at BRE’s recent ‘Developing heat networks in the UK ‘ provides a little background – and a few images – behind the new Southwark district energy network taking waste heat from the SELCHP energy from waste (EfW) plant and directing to five nearby housing estates -presentation here (and directly here). Further information on the following post here.

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The BBC’s Climate Change Advisory Group

October 2013: Following on from an earlier post on the BBC’s reporting of climate science – where it emerged the BBC had some time ago established a ‘Climate Change Advisory Group’ – I sent a few emails to the BBC Trust and information service asking for brief details about this particular Group. With no response forthcoming, I then sent an FOI request to the BBC Trust asking for some basic information about the Group:

Continue reading…

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External Wall Insulation and the Planning System

October 2013: Solid Wall Insulation (SWI) is critical in helping improve the energy efficiency of a large proportion of London’s homes and hence helpful that the GLA’s RE:NEW team have produced a short FAQ document on planning issues around the retrofit of External Wall Insulation (EWI).

The note highlights that a General Permitted Development Order (GPDO) was “clarified in regard to external wall insulation for single houses in technical guidance published by the Department for Communities and Local Government, in January 2013. It is stated that for the purposes of planning, external wall insulation is considered to be an ‘improvement’ rather than ‘development’, and, hence, does not require an applicant to make a planning application first to the local planning authority.”

Further information on the CLG planning order referenced above can be seen in an earlier post here. Further information on planning issues related to the roll-out of SWI in London can also be seen in this really helpful Future of London briefing note here.

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London’s electricity infrastructure under spotlight

October 2013: The issue of London’s electricity infrastructure is being raised in several quarters now, most recently by the Mayor in a letter to Secretary of State for Energy , Ed Davey, and through the Mayor’s High Level Electricity Working Group. More recently the GLA London Infrastructure Group has looked at future constraints on London’s electricity network, which has led to the recent commissioning of a piece of research work looking at barriers to connection to the electricity distribution network in the capital.

The latest meeting of the Infrastructure Group turns again to this issues, with a short briefing paper (Agenda Item 4 Appendix A) presented for discussion which highlights the following:

the UK’s poor ranking on electricity connections (only 62nd out of 185 economies) in the World Bank’s ‘Ease of Doing Business’ survey (London example was used for UK assessment), the Prime Minister’s Office and the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) are now investigating the issue and officers as well as Matthew Pencharz are in touch with relevant officials.

In relation to the recently commissioned research the paper states this “is expected to conclude in January/February 2014, and on its basis further discussions with the Government and other key players about improving infrastructure funding arrangements will be initiated.”

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Elephant & Castle plans to be ‘Climate Positive’

October 2013: London SE1 community website recently reported that  “Lend Lease’s Elephant & Castle programme has been formally recognised by C40 Cities Climate Leadership to become the third project of 18 globally to reach ‘participant’ status.
The ‘climate positive participant’ rating is conferred by sustainability experts acting on behalf of C40’s Climate Positive Development Programme in partnership with the Clinton Climate Initiative.
To achieve this status, Elephant & Castle developers have submitted a roadmap which demonstrates that the scheme is set to be climate positive by 2020.”

Further information on the Elephant and Castle regeneration website states construction started last month  on “the first 500 new homes …[which] will be some of the most sustainable, energy efficient and occupier-friendly places to live in Britain.” Amongst the ‘green’ initiatives to be incorporated in to what is one of the largest regeneration sites in Europe will be an ” on-site combined heat and energy centre [which] will not only provide heat and power to the homes and shops, it will also act as an interactive community and educational centre for the public.”

Some further background to this scheme and its carbon-reduction plans can be read in an earlier post here.

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Barriers to Electricity Connections in London

October 2013: Interesting to see the GLA have recently approved funding to commission “external consultants to collect evidence of barriers experienced by developers in obtaining timely and cost efficient connections to London’s electricity distribution infrastructure, model the economic impact of the current barriers and advise on options for removing them.” Similar issues, along with questions on the suitability of the regulatory framework governing investment into London’s electricity networks, were highlighted in a letter from the Mayor to energy Secretary of State, Ed Davey, released a few weeks ago.

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“The Rise of Distributed Generation”

October 2013: PWC’s latest annual energy and utilities survey – Energy Transformation: The impact on the power sector business model is proving quite a stir as a result of its findings on the future of the electricity generation sector. An incredible “82% see distributed power generation as ‘an opportunity’ versus only 18% rating it as a ‘threat’.”

The Executive Summary sets out that “The growth of distributed generation and its threat to the power utility business model depends on technological developments and cost. Its rise in Europe has been subsidy-driven. Cost barriers remain in the way of it being truly market-driven. But, if these barriers can be overcome, they could set the scene for widespread global industry transformation. Many believe that point is within reach. Energy efficiency, falling solar prices, demand-side management and smart grid technology head the list of technological developments that the industry believes will have the biggest impact on their power markets.

“At the moment we are beginning to come to the end of a phase where the spread of distributed generation has been policy and subsidy-led. With the economics of distributed generation fast changing, we are likely to move into a phase where take-up is commercially and market-led.” [p17]

The growth of smaller scale, localised distributed – or decentralised – energy generation technologies is critical in helping cities such as London determine their own energy future. Many of the larger scale centralised generation plant currently in operation reflected the opportunities that were available at the time: coal power stations were sited near coal-seams; the 1990s ‘dash for gas’ led to a dramatic increase of new ‘Combined Cycle Gas Turbine’ (CCGT) plants, often situated close to gas terminals. Increasingly, smaller, cleaner energy systems, from PV to CHP, heat pumps to district heating schemes, are becoming technologies of choice: importantly they are sited at the place of demand – where consumers actually need to use power and heat. It’s therefore good to see such significant support for this dramatic change in this timely and important analysis.

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Integrating Environmental Thinking to ‘Make a City Great’

October 2013: A recent report by McKinsey sets out that “By 2030, 60 percent of the world’s population will live in cities. That could mean great things for economic growth—if the cities handle their expansion wisely.” How to Make a City Great sets out how city leaders need to ‘Integrate Environmental Thinking’ into their economic decision-making – highlighting work already underway providing ‘green’ retrofits of existing buildings to developing entire green districts, with a summary provided of technologies deployed in such districts in various cities around the world.

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