Monthly Archives: November 2013

Designing with data: shaping our future cities

November 2013: A new report undertaken by ARUP for RIBA sets out that we are now at the  “Dawn of a ‘smart era [where the]  vast quantities of data we produce is set to revolutionise the way we design and build our cities”. A series of case studies are set out in ‘Designing with data: shaping our future cities‘ which includes the London Heat Map:

“One of the key benefits of adopting a smart approach to data is the ability to see lots of datasets in context with each other, and to detect temporal and spatial patterns. This transparency saves time and cost by reducing the time needed to find and process key data. The London Heat Map is a case in point. The interactive tool developed by the Greater London Authority (GLA) allows people to identify opportunities for Decentralised Energy projects in London, such as Combined Heat and Power (CHP) or district heating networks. Public organisations, property developers, social landlords or investors can also use it to view spatial information that can help them identify and develop Distributed Energy opportunities, such as data on: major energy consumers, fuel consumption and carbon emissions,energy supply plants, community heating networks,and heat density. The London Heat Map will evolve overtime alongside the Decentralised Energy for London programme and become more useful and sophisticated as boroughs and other stakeholders start inputting more energy data into the map.”

The report goes on to quote Alan Shingler, Partner, Head of Sustainability, Sheppard Robson who states “smart data could help test the impact of likely building fabric improvements through the Government’s Green Deal or regeneration schemes, to show how the GLA’s Heat Map would adjust to these variables. The data could also be used to model the impact of new renewable energy generation and future development on the map. This would enable the creation of a resilient low carbon transition plan for London that would take into account a range of considerations….where Combined Heat and Power (CHP) is proposed, heat could be more freely shared with neighbouring residential developments, schools, or public buildings with a relatively high heat load.

Three recommendations are made in the report including one Energy for London strongly supports which is the greater ‘Digitisation the of the planning process’ where “Government should scope how it can standardise the digitisation of all information submitted for planning, and of standardising design data collection across local authorities. This public data should be open to unleash economic growth; and local authorities should be encouraged to use open data to inform local planning strategies.”

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GLA responds to Heat Enquiry

November 2013: The House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Select Committee is currently undertaking an enquiry into Heat. The terms of reference to the enquiry states that “so far much of government’s energy policy focus has been on low-carbon electricity generation (in particular, the Energy Bill, which aims to reform the electricity market).  Yet heat is responsible for 46% of UK energy use, approximately a third of UK greenhouse gas emissions, and is a major cost in both the domestic and non-domestic sectors.”

The Greater London Authority (GLA) has submitted written evidence to the Committee outlining the significant decentralised energy programme underway in the capital. The evidence sets out a number of interesting points related to the wider scale deployment of heat networks as well as recommendations to Government in terms of its policies to promote decentralised generation. These include:

  • The Mayor welcomes the Committee’s scrutiny of this often over-looked area of energy policy
  • There are “inconsistencies in government’s energy policy and regulatory regime that are preventing heat generation and distribution in citieswhich “…distort the market for heat by providing external financial support for some technologies, while largely ignoring heat networks.
  • Heat network deployment at the scale envisaged for London represents a significant infrastructural challenge, requiring approximately 3,600km of heat networks to be constructed by 2030 and equates to an investment opportunity of approximately £6bn
  • Whilst district heating schemes can qualify for funding under ECO, the current two year target as well as uncertainty regarding longer-term target discourage energy suppliers from investing in these schemes.  Government should consider setting longer term targets for the next phases of ECO, or provide guidance on how investment in district heating schemes can contribute to current or future targets
  • We estimate that London housing development will generate at the very least £25m per annum under the proposed Allowable Solutions regime – by far the greatest amount of any region. Yet, because measures are likely to be cheaper outside London, London businesses and households will again be subsidising other regions and receiving less investment into low carbon, heating bill reducing measures. In addition, as Allowable Solutions investment is likely to lever ECO investment, there is a risk that the proposed scheme will exacerbate the imbalance in ECO investment away from London.

The Committee’s evidence gathering process continues in November – more of which can be found here.

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The Big London Energy Switch

November 2013: London Councils’ Transport & Environment Committee recently discussed its initiative ‘The Big London Energy Switch‘ (further background to which is posted here). There have been two previous auctions through the collective energy switching scheme earlier this year, in April and June, and the initiative is now open to registration to users for a further auction to take place on 19 November. The London Councils’ paper highlights that a total of 1,847 residents switched through the first auction, saving on average £114 on their annual fuel bill.

Two more boroughs are now participating in this switch, bringing the total to 23. The note highlights some findings from the evaluation of the programme, undertaken by the Energy Saving Trust, stating:

  • The scheme was effective at engaging with vulnerable residents, as evidenced by the high proportion of vulnerable residents that signed up, compared to the average proportions in London’s population – 41 per cent of those that registered their interest in the scheme indicated that they receive benefits.
  • The tariffs offered from the energy companies for the spring auction were not attractive enough to persuade the expected proportion of registrants to make the switch – only 9 per cent of full registrants actually switched.

The note also highlights that the auction was originally set to take place in October however – “following discussions with energy suppliers, the date of the auction would be pushed back to 19 November…  The reason is that there have been delays in Ofgem and the energy suppliers reaching consensus to implement the Retail Market Review (RMR) reforms, which are designed to make the market simpler and fairer for consumers.”

“Whilst changing the auction date is inconvenient for boroughs who have already publicised the date, the change increases the likelihood of energy suppliers providing bespoke tariffs in the auction and potentially increasing savings for the majority of residents.

“Overall we are disappointed that the date of the auction has been pushed back by a month, but hope that this will mean cheaper tariffs are offered by energy suppliers at auction and that more residents will be able to benefit from the scheme.”

The full EST evaluation report of the Big London Energy Switch, which includes 31 recommendations, can be downloaded here.

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