Monthly Archives: December 2014

Energy Efficient Cafe in Peckham

31 December 2014: Short profile of Lerryn’s Cafe  in Peckham in Guardian feature on energy efficiency initiatives by cafes.

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Everything you wanted to ask about fracking in London…

December 2014: Fracking of shale gas has been added to the mix of energy issues that have dominated headlines over the past year. A surprising element to the debate however has been the potential for fracking gas in London.

Things were kick started by the Mayor back in 2013 (2 July) with a letter to the Times, raising concerns about how London might be facing future powe blackouts, where he also added if reserves of shale can be exploited in London we should leave no stone unturned, or unfracked, in the cause of keeping the lights on” (Times letter – behind paywall – here; letter also covered in following Guardian article). The Mayor similarly supported the wider use of fracking in an article in The Sun in September 2013. Continue reading…

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Tower Hamlets insulates

25 December 2014: Hackney Gazette story on abseiling engineers providing insulation to a number of tower blocks in Tower Hamlets. Energy supplier EDF Energy is funding the work as part of their Energy Company Obligation (ECO) targets.

EDF state that this is one of the largest ECO projects they have worked on with a London borough with some 500 homes included in the scheme on the Bancroft, Avebury, St Stephen’s and Chicksand estates. Work is expected to be complete by March, 2016.

Tower Hamlets has set out its ambition to access ECO funding in its recent 2014/15 Sustainability Action Plan. This work has been planned for sometime now – details of which are set out in a 2013 approval paper from Tower Hamlets council here. Delays have been most likely been caused through the Government’s changes to the ECO programme which the Prime Minister ordered in December 2013 (to which many concerns were raised by practioners to a DECC blog on the ECO changes earlier this year (search for words ‘Brent’ and ‘London’ in blog)).

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London Private Rented Sector energy efficiency push

19 December 2014: A mayoral approval document outlines support to two new projects to save energy and carbon in properties in the private rented sector (PRS) and to boost membership of the London Rental Standard (LRS).

The Mayor has approved:

  • Expenditure of £141,000 of capital grant funding and £45,000 of revenue funding including for assessments and testimonial material to support delivery of at least 50 demonstration projects with LRS-accredited landlords, each resulting in a retrofitted PRS home and raising awareness of the benefits that can be achieved.
  • Expenditure of up to £80,000 revenue funding for the development and implementation of a pilot programme to trial the use of incentive payments to LRS-accredited lettings agents for achieving retrofit works on at least 400 PRS properties they let or manage on behalf of private landlords.
  • Expenditure of up to £20,000 revenue funding for the evaluation of both projects.

The approval document sets out the strong rationale for driving ahead the energy efficiency message in the PRS:

  • the PRS accounts for a quarter of London’s housing stock (850,000), is growing fast (nearly doubling in size since 2000)
  • the Energy Act 2011 requires that from 2016 it will be unlawful for landlords to refuse reasonable requests from tenants for energy efficiency improvements, and from 2018 it will become unlawful to rent out EPC F and G rated properties (see DECC’s recent consultation on PRS Energy Efficiency regulations here
  • the Landlords Energy Saving Allowance (LESA), a tax allowance of up to £1,500 per building per year, is available but will end on 6 April 2015
  • the PRS is the worst performing sector in terms of quality of stock. 17% of PRS tenants are in fuel poverty, while 30% of PRS homes fall below the Decent Homes standard (compared with 10% and 21% across London overall).

Full details of each programme is set out in the approval form. The project will be overseen by the Mayor’s Housing Investment Group, which has previously discussed this initiative (see item 8 of minutes) and raised a number of issues including:

  • reasons for targeting PRS properties rather than owner-occupied properties
  • Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) had not yet had a big impact but this would likely to change as from 2017
  • Questions were raised as to whether the scheme would be replicable on a greater scale. The Group heard that, if successful, the programme could be scaled-up and delivered through energy suppliers or contractors, as part of their marketing budgets. A discussion was held regarding the potential involvement of energy suppliers to incentivise the programme. It was agreed that while this could be looked at for future iterations of the programme, to engage energy suppliers at this stage would complicate and delay the start of the programme.
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Three quarters of councils are switching off or dimming streetlights

22 December 2014: “Of Britain’s 5.7 million streetlights 558,000 now being shut off at night, an eight fold increase on 2010, figures showAccording to a major survey of the 141 of the 150 councils in charge of lighting Britain’s streets 50 have switched some lights off altogether, 98 councils have decided to dim at least some streetlights. Overall 106 of the 141 councils, doing one or the other, or both figures obtained by Labour Party from FOI requests reveal.”
Read full Daily Telegraph article here.

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Zero Emission Buses

December 2014: The Institute for Sustainability, in collaboration with Transport for London (TfL), has launched a review report that outlines how to calculate the economic and operational feasibility of delivering London’s plan for zero emission buses, helping improve air quality in the city. Full details and report available here.

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North London Heat and Power Project

December 2014: North London Waste Authority (NLWA) has launched its first phase of public consultation on the North London Heat and Power Project – a £450-500 million Energy Recovery Facility at the Edmonton EcoPark in the London Borough of Enfield. All details are set out on their new website:

The development proposal consists of:

  • an energy from waste plant – described here as an Energy Recovery Facility (ERF)-  generating 70MW of electricity using residual waste
  • “heat off-take” equipment within the ERF which will generate an initial heat supply through a connection to a separate heat network centre that will be located on the site.
  • This separate heat network centre is not part of the Project and will be developed by the London Borough of Enfield. The separate heat network will be designed to be capable of providing heat in the region of 30 MW which will provide benefit to north and east London;

North London Waste Authority (NLWA) arranges the disposal of waste collected by the seven London boroughs of Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Hackney, Haringey, Islington and Waltham Forest. The existing Energy from Waste plant at the EcoPark that has served north London for around 45 years and is coming to the end of its operational life.

A video on the current energy system in place can be seen here; a second video on new proposals can be seen here.

Plans for the heat offtake extend to connecting to the wider Lee Valley Heat Network – details for which were announced earlier this year and to which government funding was announced in October. The first phase of the Lee Valley Heat Network will focus on the £1.5 billion Meridian Water development.

The following three tenders for the Heat Network have been issued by Enfield in the past few weeks:

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London electricity infrastructure resilience concerns

December 2014: The House of Lords Science Science & Technology Committee have been conducting evidence sessions earlier this month for their current inquiry into the Resilience of electricity infrastructure.

Interesting to note that included in the written evidence provided to the Committee is a submission from the City of London Corporation (page 28 onwards). The Corporation’s main point is the “need for greater regulatory flexibility and more targeted investment and calls for better planning of the delivery of capacity in the system.”

The Corporation’s memorandum continues:

  • It is clear that its [UKPN’s]  network in London does not have available spare capacity to cope with future demand. This poses risks to future development and refurbishment cycles because developers and property owners are unable to be sure of the availability of electricity capacity. Further uncertainty results from the fact that it can take up to 3 years for substations to be reinforced and installation works completed so as to have sufficient capacity to supply a new building.
  • The Corporation suggests that: “Given Ofgem’s existing regime does not incentivise investment ahead of need, new connections generally occur on an ad hoc basis, responding to immediate demand. The difficulty of creating such new connections at the last minute is hampered by the physical characteristics of the City (such as utilities congestion under the highway.”
  • The Corporation is also critical of Ofgem’s determination of UK Power Network’s (UKPN) submission to the next regulatory framework period for investment (RIIO-ED1) – as summarised by Ofgem in the following press release. The Corporation states “Ofgem[‘s]  proposed  12% reduction in the UKPN’s overall spending …would mean a loss of money available for investment in central London of around £200 million. This is highly likely to have a significant impact on UKPN’s ability to undertake a suitable level of network asset replacement work in the period 2015-2023. Cuts in investment are likely to lead to more widespread and frequent network outages due to the age of network assets.” Ofgem has in fact put pressure on all distribution network operator’s (DNOs)  business plan submissions, and this drive down in UKPN’s cost proposals would not necessarily mean a direct reduction in investment in central London: it would depend on where UKPN apply savings to.
  • The submission continues to highlight what it believes are further critical investment proposals within its territory to electricity infrastructure investment, calling on Ofgem to “reinstate this funding element in its final determination [to UKPN] in December 2014.”

The memorandum references research undertaken by the British Council for Offices which outlines that the forthcoming closure of the UK’s legacy generation plant and lack of available new sources of generation has increased the likelihood of blackouts from 1 in 3,307 years in 2012 to 1 in 12 years in 2015.

The submission makes a number of interesting points including “…the starting point for the verification of any case for investment ahead of need will be a clear overview of available DNO substation capacity in areas of high  development growth. Regrettably this data is currently unavailable Ofgem and the Government should ensure that DNOs make this information publically available. It would be important to consider this data alongside information from developers, market details and Local Authority information.”

The Corporation of London’s evidence have been advised through research they have commissioned including – Delivering Power:The Future of Electricity Regulation in London’s Central Business District – and the Future of London’s Power supply. The Mayor has also written to the Secretary of State raising similar concerns over London’s electricity infrastructure.

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A Global Survey of Building Energy Efficiency Policies in Cities

December 2014: A pretty major study undertaken for the C40 Cities network – ‘Urban Efficiency: A Global Survey of Building Energy EfficiencyPolicies in Cities’ – which was sponsored by Tokyo Metropolitan Government. The report is available to download here.

The report’s objectives in terms of building energy efficiency programmes were to:

  • capture the range of different policies being implemented in cities around the world;
  • obtain detailed information on the necessary conditions, opportunities and potential challenges when introducing and implementing such initiatives; and
  • analyse what approaches have been successful in which context and why.

The policies it highlights as being most commonly implemented across cities across the world include:

  • Building Energy Codes
  • Reporting and benchmarking of energy performance data
  • Mandatory auditing and retro-commissioning
  • Emissions trading schemes
  • Green building rating and energy performance labelling
  • Financial incentives
  • Non-financial incentives
  • Awareness raising programmes
  • Promoting green leases
  • Voluntary leadership programmes
  • Government leadership

A chapter – ‘Experiences from Frontrunner Cities’ – presents detailed case studies from “ten pioneering C40 cities implementing various kinds of programmes to drive energy efficiency and sustainability in existing commercial and residential buildings” – but doesn’t unfortunately include experiences from London. London is however included in a ‘policy map’ survey for new and existing buildings (pages 19-21).

Page 34 mentions “Almost all cities have shown a willingness to lead by example. In London, all new buildings for the Greater London Authority are required to meet the London Development Agency’s Sustainable Design and Construction Standards or exceed targets in the London Plan.” Some information on the application of the LDA’s SDC Standards can be seen from a MQ from earlier this year here.

Elsewhere in the report, London’s Better Building Partnership initiative is referenced. Pages 40 and 41 also provide a useful list of weblinks to London documents on energy efficiency initiatives.

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A field study of urban microclimates in London

December 2014: Open access paper published in the January 2015 issue of Renewable Energy.

“This paper aims to address the characteristics of urban microclimates that affect the building energy performance and implementation of the renewable energy technologies. An experimental campaign was designed to investigate the microclimate parameters including air and surface temperature, direct and diffuse solar irradiation levels on both horizontal and vertical surfaces, wind speed and direction in a dense urban area in London. The outcomes of this research reveal that the climatic parameters are significantly influenced by the attributes of urban textures, which highlight the need for both providing the microclimatic information and using them in buildings design stages. This research provides a valuable set of microclimatic information for a dense urban area in London. According to the outcomes of this research, the feasibility study for implementation of renewable energy technologies and the thermal/energy performance assessment of buildings need to be conducted using the microclimatic information rather than the meteorological weather data mostly collected from non-urban environments.”

Available to download here.

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Microclimatic effects of green and cool roofs in London

December 2014: Paper presented in the latest issue of academic journal Energy in Buildings –  Microclimatic effects of green and cool roofs in London and their impacts on energy use for a typical office building – which presents the results from a modelling study that assessed the effectiveness of retrofitted green and cool roofs at reducing energy use for a typical office in Central London. These technologies were compared to application of retrofitting traditional insulation.

The building modelling results indicate that in the current climate, green roofs reduce annual energy use within the building. The level of savings are reduced when green roofs are dry in the summer. Cool roofs are more effective in the summer, but result in an annual energy penalty due to their performance in winter. In a 2050 climate scenario, both green and cool roofs result in a reduction in annual energy use. The application of traditional insulation is the most effective technology at reducing annual energy use. Adding insulation and a green or cool roof reduces the relative effectiveness of the roofs.

Unfortunately – the paper is not available for free..

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Energy exchange in a dense urban environment

December 2014: Two papers from the December issue of academic journal Urban Climatepresented at  ICUC8: The 8th International Conference on Urban Climate and the 10th Symposium on the Urban Environment both publicly available.

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