Renewable Energy

“no energy bills for inhabitants of ‘world’s most sustainable residential tower'”

10 November 2016: Article reproduced below from the Evening Standard’s property section about a proposed new development, just outside of London, designed to deliver ‘no energy bills for inhabitants‘. London’s new planning rules for zero carbon homes, introduced on 1 October 2016, could provide the framework to deliver similar such developments in the capital.

The Beacon in Hemel Hempstead:no energy bills for inhabitants of ‘world’s most sustainable residential tower’

Zero-emission development uses solar panels and heat exchangers to provide free heating and hot water for life…

A revolutionary residential tower being built in Hemel Hempstead offers sustainable and affordable luxury living – without any energy bills.

Prices range from £218,000 for a starter home to £1 million for a penthouse in the 17-storey tower, which will have 272 studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom balconied apartments and penthouses.

Touted as the “world’s most sustainable development” by Lumiere Developments, the eco-credentials of tower, which is due to be completed in 2018, are not only impressive but promise to offer buyers free energy for life.

Electricity will be generated by embedded solar panels at each floor level, making it the highest density solar farm in the world; hot water will be provided by ground source heat pumps and rainwater will be harvested for toilet flushing as well as irrigation of the UK’s tallest indoor arboretum, which will keep the internal air fresh.

The apartments are triple- or quadruple-glazed and hot water is provided by ground source heat pumps which extract heat from the basement of the building, while air source heat pumps extract heat from the atrium.

“Sustainability is at the forefront of everything we do,” says Ambi Singh, commercial director of Lumiere Developments. “It’s not about climate change alone – it’s about human life. I don’t have to be a tree hugger, I don’t have to make the choice between luxury and sustainability.”

There will be an internal arboretum, café, bar, club lounge and cinema room, plus a gym for which membership is included within the annual management fee.

There’ll also be a communal roof sky garden, as well as electric car and electric bike hire schemes for residents.

The tower will be bordered by 400 acres of green belt land, and Hemel Hampstead station, with direct links to Euston within 24 minutes, is within walking distance .

Further information on the development’s sustainability plans are set out at thebeacondevelopment.co.uk

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SOAS becomes first community energy university

November 2016: Congratulations to student group Solar SOAS who successfully achieved their crowd funding goal earlier this year raising £22,000 for their PV project, which has now successfully installed 114 solar panels on the roof of their university building.

Funds were raised from SOAS itself, the students’ union and individual donors, and Solar SOAS co-founder Hannah Short said that crowdfunding the project provided “a rare opportunity for interested stakeholders to become part of a climate solution”.

Solar SOAS are having a ‘solabration’ tomorrow evening at the Brunei Gallery to formally launch the project – full details of which are posted here.

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Environmental Design at the Tate Modern

November 2016: The latest issue of the CIBSE Journal includes a case study on the significant design measures integrated into the new Tate Modern Switch House extension:

“The Tate wanted the environmental design of the Switch House extension to London’s Tate Modern gallery to be as cutting-edge as the art installations it showcases…Max Fordham’s scheme does not disappoint. It uses ground water pumped from river gravel below the site, desiccant dehumidification and even waste heat from electrical transformers to create the ideal environmental conditions for the Tate’s priceless works of art, while ensuring millions of visitors are comfortable.” Read the full case study here.

Tate Modern’s energy programme was supported by the London Energy Efficiency Fund – see earlier post here – and last year, a solar PV array was also added to the building.

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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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Havering Council could switch to solar energy with panels in Upminster and Harold Hill

7 October 2016: Following on from an earlier post about Havering’s Solar Parks initiative – comes further news on the borough’s ambitions, with a press notice that Havering seeks to become London’s first solar powered Council. In addition to plans to build two solar parks, which could have the potential of generating £1m annual income, the councils is exploring the potential for residents to directly invest in a sustainable future for the borough through a solar financial investment fund. Further information on the following Romford Reader article and Havering Council’s website here.

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‘London disposal authority calls for food waste ban’

5 October 2016: Let’s Recycle report on North London Waste Authority’s submission to the EFRA Select Committee inquiry into Food Waste in England with the NLWA stating that a: “ ban on commercial and industrial food waste to landfill would have the benefit of diverting industrial food wastes from disposal, including the quantity of food waste from small restaurants and shops, thus making food waste collections potentially more viable for these premises and potentially further stimulating the market for anaerobic digestion.”

The response goes on:

“However, it may have the unintended consequence of encouraging retailers to sell more short-life food to householders to avoid sending the food to relatively expensive AD and composting outlets; which would have to be guarded against.”

The NLWA response echoes recommendations made by the London Assembly Environment Committee in their Bag it or bin it?: Managing London’s domestic food waste

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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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London Buses Biodiesel Supplier Wins Award

September 2016: TfL announced in December 2015 that one third of London’s buses were to run on waste fats and oils, with two bus operators, Stagecoach and Metroline, signing deals with Argent Energy to supply them with B20 green diesel.

And, it’s just been announced that Argent Energy “has won two awards at the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP) Low Carbon Champions Awards 2016: the Low Carbon Fuel Initiative of the Year Award and the highest accolade, the Grand Prix, or Winner of Winners, Award” – as reported in Biodiesel Magazine.

The article sets out that “Argent only uses wastes for biodiesel and is the most sustainable producer in the U.K. The company has introduced high GHG-saving fuel into London in support of its challenging climate change targets. Argent captured the potential of biodiesel from waste as a drop-in replacement fuel without the need for vehicle modification. The fuel is priced around the same level as standard diesel, and sometimes cheaper.

“Argent is not only working with the GLA and Transport for London to reach their target of B20 (high bio-blend diesel) in all London diesel buses by 2020, but has engaged with other U.K. cities. The company is also supplying more than 5,000 vehicles U.K.-wide with its waste-derived diesel and has demonstrated its commitment to helping transport companies to save carbon by investing in a new £75 million (USD$97.4 million) biodiesel plant in North West England due for completion at the end of the year.”

Further information on the awards is available on the LCVP press release here – which also states that “In 2015 Argent supplied high bio‐blend diesel to two major London bus companies. After a year of supplying these companies, the greenhouse gas emission savings will be equivalent to 150 million miles of carbon-free travel, based on DfT figures.”

The GLA issued a research report in 2013 on the potential for on the opportunity for a biodiesel market in London using used cooking oil (UCOs), fats oils and grease (FOGs) from commercial and domestic sources in the capital – details of which can be read in an earlier post here. Details are also posted on the GLA website here – and a very brief update by the new Mayor was also provided in a recent MQ here.

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Community Energy Share Offers are Go!

August 2016: Really great to see three share offers have recently gone live in London providing opportunities to invest around £200,000 in community energy projects across schools, university and church buildings.

  • Solar SOAS are seeking £40,000 for a solar installation  on the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) Old Building. The project will install 114 solar panels – and the student union have already pledged £10,000 to the cost of the install. A list of useful FAQs can be seen here along with a video outlining the project. Solar SOAS state that “The solar panels are considered permitted development under Camden planning guidelines, therefore we do not need planning permission. As it is a listed building and in a conservation area, we do need listed building consent. Together with SOAS we have commissioned an extensive heritage impact report and submitted our application for listed building consent. We are awaiting the outcome of this but are confident we will get it.” The Heritage planning application is currently with Camden Council, some of the details of which can be seen here and here. Read more on the project on the Solar SOAS blog. The project succeeded in securing funding in May 2015 from the government’s Urban Community Energy Fund (UCEF) which was, sadly, terminated as of last month. Further info on the project on the following story on Solar Power Portal.
  • Power Up North London’s project involves the installations of  solar panels at St. Anne’s Church, Highgate. PUNL are seeking to raise  £30,100 through a Community Share Offer to install 19kW. The project faced difficulties back in June when, as the Camden New Journal reported “a conservation officer at the Town Hall has queried the project on the grounds of the panels being visible and potential damage caused to historic fabric” which prompted “a letter-writing campaign to force Camden Council to give the scheme the go-ahead”. The planning application was subsequently approved by the council in July, as reported in the Ham & High. Full details of investment offer are available on their website.
  • South East London Community Energy (SELCE) have been working for over a year to develop a number of solar projects on schools in the area. Their share offer was officially launched at City Hall in July and, as their website states, the “offer was so popular that it was oversubscribed and had to close a few days before the official end date of August 4th 2016. We have now raised £120,000 of investment from the community to install solar panels on three sites in South East London. These are: Alderwood Primary School, Deansfield Primary School
    and Bannockburn Primary School.” This new project builds upon earlier successes – a £250,000 community share offer for a 184-panel solar array at Mulgrave Primary School in Woolwich.
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London Community Energy Fortnight Events

August 2016: Community Energy Fortnight starts on September the 3rd, kicking off with a major conference in Oxford. A wide number of events are taking place across the country – including a good number in London, links to which are listed below:

Further events may come forward – check the main CEF website for further details.

Energy for London will helping at an event on 8 September with Community Energy England, Repowering London and 10:10 – initiating work for the launch of a new hub for community energy groups in London – Community Energy London.  If you’re working on a community energy project, exploring a potential opportunity, or simply want to find out more information on the community energy sector in London, do come along!

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