Decentralised Energy

Energy and Climate Questions to the Mayor

October 2016: This month Mayor’s Question Time included the following:

whether an annual planning and energy assessment report will be published; higher energy costs for Londoners due to the Hinkley go-aheadsolar action plan consultation; supporting community energy projects through the Zero Carbon Homes policy; Energy for Londoners budget; the number of zero carbon homes projected to be in place in 2025 in the London Energy Scenarios report; the Mayor’s support for the Energy Bill Revolution campaign; the use of biomass in large scale centralised coal generating plant which supply power to London; the proposed increase in business rates on solar PV installations; supporting the Zero Carbon Homes policy in future revisions to the London Plan; supporting boroughs in the implementation of the Zero Carbon Homes policy; the range of options open to developers to meet the Zero Carbon Homes target; how forthcoming revisions to the London Plan will support the Zero Carbon Homes policy; the Energy Gardens programme and LPG conversion of London cabs.

Previous months questions to the Mayor can be found here.

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Cleaner Energy Drive at TfL?

October 2016: Really interesting interview by BusinessGreen with TfL Board Member Michael Liebreich. Michael, who is the founder of Bloomberg New Energy Finance and an industry expert on clean energy, has recently been reappointed to the Board by new Mayor Sadiq Khan. In addition to Michael’s expertise, in a further positive move, Dr Nina Skorupska, Chief Executive of the Renewable Energy Association has been newly appointed to the Board. In his interview Michael highlights some of the challenges he has experienced as a Board member:

“…Liebreich does admit engagement with environmental issues has not always been as prevalent as he would have hoped. “The board as a whole, I’ll be honest, has never had a conversation about climate change,” he reveals. “And to the extent we’ve had conversations about carbon at the board or finance committee or even safety and sustainability panel it has only been because I’ve initiated them. During the four years I’ve been on the board we’ve never had a briefing on climate change at the board level. We’ve never brought an expert in and said ‘where are we going to be in 50 years on sea level or rainfall or whatever it is. What is going to happen here and what do we need to know to future proof the assets’?”

“Thankfully, he is confident the board’s approach to climate issues is about to change. Khan and Deputy Mayor for Transport Val Shawcross will set the agenda for the new board, but Liebreich has no doubts action on climate change and air pollution will be more central. “I started to push for a briefing on climate change and was told we are going to have a new board so wait until we have a new board,” he says. “I am delighted there will be more focus on these issues.”

A report Energy for London prepared earlier this year for former London Assembly Green Party member Jenny Jones, highlighted the incredibly slow progress TfL has made in securing cleaner power supplies for London Underground (see report here – in particular page 15 onwards). Similar points made in the report are echoed by Michael in his interview:

“As such a large and predictable energy consumer, TfL would be well placed to take advantage of highly competitive long term contracts with clean energy suppliers, Liebreich predicts. “We could enter into a 40 year PPA [Power Purchase Agreement],” he says. “We are going to be running trains on electricity for ever. We are a fantastic potential purchaser of renewable energy for a long period. If you went back a few years we would be a great purchaser but it would still be more expensive than the generic mix of electricity, [but now] could we enter a very long term contract which would be cheaper? You could imagine a scenario where the first onshore wind farm built without subsidy in the UK is built as a deal between some farmer who has a chunk of land and TfL which wants to lock in a deal that is cheaper than what we are paying currently for electricity. Do I know that can be done, no? But it is something we should be exploring.”

However, the Licence Lite project, led by the GLA, now appears the main action to try to source low carbon electricity for the tube – with the Mayor anticipating an announcement that the licence was to be granted in September (see para 2 of following GLA press release).

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FAQ on ZCH

3 October 2016: London’s Zero Carbon Homes planning policy officially started on the 1st of October. Attending a recent industry workshop around the new ZCH rules – it’s clear that many organisations involved in the sector are still not quite aware of what this this all means. Hence answers to some of the most frequently asked questions raised follow below.

  • What exactly started on 1 October 2016?

All new planning applications in London for residential projects above 10 units will now need to provide an energy assessment which will set out how the development will achieve a zero carbon status.

  • When was this first announced?

There have been no announcements by the GLA that this new ZCH policy was going to commence from 1 October. Instead, information has largely had to be gleaned from new planning documentation and a number of recent responses by the Mayor to questions.  The new policy and its implications were first picked up in a post on the Energy for London website here, following the publication of a new GLA Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) document on Housing.

  • Where is detail behind this policy set out?

Three GLA planning documents set out the new policy requirements to some extent: they are the SPG on Sustainable Design and Construction; the SPG on Housing and a GLA Preparing Energy Assessment guidance paper.

  • Erm…anything shorter..?!

Continue reading…

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Energy and Climate Questions to the Mayor

September 2016: This month Mayor’s Question Time included the following:

progress on Energy for Londonersschools and community energy; schools and solar powercost to business of poor energy efficiency; renewable energy potential on TfL land and buildings; solar on London Overground land; energy efficiency and private rented sector; a discussion on Energy for Londoners; the London Sustainable Development Commission’s work plan; tube station lighting; carbon budgets; GHG emissions linked to London’s goods and services; carbon offsetting funds; cleaner, greener taxis.

Previous months questions to the Mayor can be found here.

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Devolve more powers on energy to the Mayor

15 August 2016: Following a comment piece in the Evening Standard last week, on how London is supporting the growth of decentralised energy, here’s my letter in response which was published in the paper today.

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“The power revolution could soon be moving from dream to reality”

10 August 2016: Welcome to see the Evening Standard today include a major comment piece by Leo Johnson on how “Small-scale projects such as those in Newham, Brixton and Islington give a glimpse of Britain’s energy future”.

Leo highlights three projects in London as signs of how the decentralised energy model is now in the ascendancy, shifting from the “dominant energy model, the centralised production and distribution of fossil fuel-based power through the grid”.

  • “In Newham, for example, the Combined Heat and intelligent Power plant (CHiP) aims to harness the energy from “fatbergs”, the bus-size balls of grease which cost Thames Water an estimated £1 million a month to remove, using teams of trained “flushers” decked out with protective white suits and shovels who descend into London’s Victorian sewer system to hack up the fat. CHiP plans to use the fat instead to power 40,000 homes.” This project is fascinating and received a lot of coverage when first announced back in 2013 – which was covered in some detail in an earlier post here – but not much further information has been forthcoming from the project on their website.
  • “In Brixton, the energy group Repowering is installing solar panels on the rooftops of housing association buildings to lower fuel bills, and is teaming up with Transport for London to introduce “energy gardens” across 50 London Overground sites.” In June of this yearRepowering was awarded a prestigious Ashden Award for their work – a case study and excellent video are posted on the Ashden website here. The Energy Gardens project was covered by ITV news a few weeks ago – see video here – and more can be seen at energygarden.org.uk
  • “At the Bunhill Energy Centre project in Islington, whose second phase was opened by Mayor Sadiq Khan last month, they’re using heat from the Northern line tube to power a thousand homes.” Lots more about Bunhill here.

Leo also highlights some work commissioned by the GLA by  engineers Buro Happold “have estimated that there is enough heat wasted in London alone to power 70 per cent of the city’s energy needs. What’s the potential for growth? Copenhagen provides 98 per cent of its space and water heating through district heating, at 45 per cent of the cost of normal oil heating bills. London’s uptake, better than the one to two per cent national average, is currently just five per cent.”  The 2013 London Secondary Heat study can be downloaded here.

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Havering ‘Solar Parks’ Initiative

August 2016: Interesing press release from Havering issued earlier this week which stated that “Havering Council is looking to harness the power of the sun by developing solar parks on its own land to generate a significant extra income for the borough.

“These solar parks will allow Havering to become the first borough in London to generate renewable energy on a large scale to make money, which would be used to protect and improve frontline services. Energy produced in this way is clean, sustainable and renewable.

“The land on which the solar parks will be constructed will be underused space that will result in few if any adverse effects on community usage. Once the solar park is past its useful life, the panels can be removed and the site will revert to its previous condition.”

A public consultation will be released by the council on the proposal sometime in the future.

Havering have supported solar for sometime with a range of rooftop projects across existing council buildings – and the council cites a recent report by Greenpeace [which] placed Havering as having the second highest percentage of solar power generated by homeowners in London, with over 1100 solar panel systems installed on domestic roofs.”

Havering councillors did however turn down an application in December 2014 for a solar farm in the borough. The developer went to appeal – but national government also refused the application earlier this year.

The press release also mentions that “The proposed solar parks will also have a positive impact on local biodiversity for a range of plant and animal species, in particular broad leaved plants, grasses, wild flowers, butterflies, bees and birds. Part of the Council’s proposals would be to work with local beekeepers to promote healthy honeybee populations, as well as Britain’s rarer bumblebees, in and around the solar parks.” The National Solar Centre’s Biodiversity Guidance for Solar Developments provides further information on the ways in which solar projects can support local ecology.

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New GLA Decentralised Energy Framework Notice

July 2016: The GLA have issued a tender to secure a range of services related to supporting the growth of decentralised energy projects in the capital:

The tender (GLA80814 – Decentralised Energy Framework) (direct download) sets out that the GLA seeks consultants with experience in:

  • developing business cases and business plans for DE projects
  • structuring templates for project delivery
  • providing commercial advise to private and public sector clients in negotiating key agreements
  • assessing different delivery vehicles and ownership structures, such as Public Private Partnership (PPP) options — Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) and Joint Venture (JV) structures
  • producing early project commercial documentation (including risk registers) and agreements
  • working with financial advisors in providing guidance on possible funding sources, including maintaining relationships with banks and investment boutiques
  • in-depth knowledge of energy markets, energy trading and negotiations.

Much of the work undertaken in this area to date, carried out by the GLA through the Decentralised Energy Project Delivery Unit (DEPDU) –  which officially closed in July 2015 –  is posted online at www.londonheatmap.org.uk.

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Smart Cities and the Built Environment

14 July 2016: Osborne Clark – the “smart cities law firm” – released a report last week examining how “how smart built environments leverage data, new technology and innovative and collaborative thinking to deliver services that benefit citizens”.

The report Smart cities in Europe: The future of the built environment includes a profile of the regeneration of Kings Cross: “Why is this redevelopment a good example of a smart built environment? For a start, the building utilises renewable energy. Solar
panels that generate around 10% of the
station’s energy requirements were installed
on the 2,500m² renovated train shed roof. A
combined heat and power (CHP) plant will
also provide locally generated power to new
businesses and homes on the site.”

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Islington District Heating Planning Guidance Published

July 2016: Islington have recently published new environmental design planning guidance on heat networks: The guidance is released in two parts – with Part 1 giving an overview of the existing and and planned Islington heat networks, as well as an introduction to the principal behind heat networks (referencing the GLA’s 2014 London Heat Network Manual). Part 2 provides technical guidance to developers looking to connect to Islington’s Bunhill heat and power network.

The Council sets out that it is “committed to working with partners to promote and develop decentralised energy (DE) networks, with a particular focus on areas of the borough with the greatest potential for such networks. Existing DE networks within the borough will be protected and their expansion supported. All development will be required to contribute to the development of DE networks, including by connecting to such networks where these exist within the proximity of the development.”

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City-integrated renewable energy for urban sustainability

Science - Urban PlanetJuly 2016: A recent issue of the journal Science published a number of articles around the theme Urban Planet.  One of the papers published was entitled: City-integrated renewable energy for urban sustainability (link to full text). The paper takes a high-level overview on a range of key carbon reduction opportunities at the city-level.

“To prepare for an urban influx of 2.5 billion people by 2050, it is critical to create cities that are low-carbon, resilient, and livable. Cities not only contribute to global climate change by emitting the majority of anthropogenic greenhouse gases but also are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change and extreme weather. We explore options for establishing sustainable energy systems by reducing energy consumption, particularly in the buildings and transportation sectors, and providing robust, decentralized, and renewable energy sources. Through technical advancements in power density, city-integrated renewable energy will be better suited to satisfy the high-energy demands of growing urban areas. Several economic, technical, behavioral, and political challenges need to be overcome for innovation to improve urban sustainability.”

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Energy and Climate Questions to the Mayor

June 2016: Positive to see the focus on energy and climate issues by a number of London Assembly members at the first question time of the new Mayor, Sadiq Khan. This month’s questions included the following issues:

the quantity of electricity supplied to TfL through the Mayor’s Licence Lite operation and few other questions on Licence Lite (here and here); supporting the growth of London community energy schemes; the London Energy Strategy; committing to London’s 25 per cent decentralised energy target; the 2020 nearly zero energy buildings target; the publication of the annual update to the GLA Energy and Climate Change Mitigation Strategy; London Energy Plan supporting studies; supporting the growth of district heating projects; support for London’s 2025 60 per cent carbon reduction target; the future of the RE:NEW and RE:FIT building retrofit programmes; the number of domestic energy efficiency retrofits supported by RE:NEW since January 2015; numbers on the GLA’s boiler scrappage list; ring fencing London’s Zero Carbon Homes offset fund; the number of zero carbon homes that could be built by 2020; zero carbon buildings planning requirements will come into force in 2019; how much money could be raised through the Zero Carbon Homes offset fund; interim targets to the Mayor’s manifesto commitment for London to be a zero carbon city by 2050; climate change and water vapour; how the Mayor will support London’s low carbon economy; emissions from river traffic  (and another); zero emission cabs and PHVs abd if CO2 is a pollutant – and finally:

whether the Mayor understands “that further increases in carbon dioxide levels will not significantly increase average global temperatures due to near saturation absorption by COin the 13 – 17 µm band of the infra-red spectrum”.

Previous months questions to the Mayor can be found here.

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