Research into building low carbon cities

May 2012: Researchers at four universities – including University College London – have secured a £6m grant that will help “study visions of an alternative urban future with drastically reduced CO2 emissions then develop realistic and radical engineering solutions to achieve them in a socially acceptable way.” Further information on the following ESPRC news release.

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Energy and Climate Questions to the Mayor

February 2012: This month the Mayor has been asked questions in relation to:

money saved through RE:FIT; grants available to tackle Fuel Poverty; the budget available to the RE:NEW energy efficiency programmeCarbon savings of ten easy measures from RE:NEW; Borough roll-out of home energy efficiency scheme RE:NEW; an Update on home energy efficiency scheme RE:NEW; the Mayor’s work with energy companies to eradicate Fuel Poverty; the number of homes in Greenwich under the RE:NEW programme; the number of homes in Lewisham under the RE:NEW programme; the number of homes under the RE:NEW programme receiving benefits; the age profiles of householders being treated under the RE:NEW programme; fuel poor homes treated under the RE:NEW programme; the number of public sector buildings treated under RE:FIT; the London 2012 Olympics – carbon reduction target; progress on Decentralised Energy; monitoring of renewable energy; the quantity of London’s Renewable EnergyRE:NEW cost and carbon savings; progress against London’s 2020 CO2 reduction target; and Climate change budgets.

Previous questions to the Mayor can be found here.

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CERT delivery in London

22 February 2012: Parliamentary question from Tessa Jowell, MP for Dulwich and West Norwood about the delivery of CERT in London.

Tessa Jowell: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change how much expenditure under the (a) Carbon Emissions Reduction Target and (b) Community Energy Saving Programme has been incurred in respect of properties in (i) London and (ii) the UK. [95626]

Gregory Barker: Best estimates of energy companies total costs in meeting their GB-wide Carbon Emissions Reduction Target (CERT) and Community Energy Saving Programme (CESP) obligations were detailed in the respective impact assessments at the outset of the schemes. Regionally disaggregated cost estimates have not been made. However, in terms of delivery activity, latest figures published by the Energy Saving Trust show that around 2.6 million homes had received insulation measures by March 2011, including almost 132,000 properties in London.

At present, the Government do not have powers to require the obligated energy companies to disclose their CERT and CESP compliance costs. However, we are taking steps to ensure information is available about the cost of delivery under the forthcoming energy company obligation, which is due to replace the existing schemes at the end of 2012.

The latest EST figures for CERT are posted here (they are anticipated to be updated by the EST in early March). The data above once again highlights the low delivery of CERT and CESP in London, with London only achieving a level of around five per cent of all homes treated in the UK

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South Kilburn decentralised energy system

February 2012: Brent Council has recently issued a tender for a major new decentralised energy heat and power system in South Kilburn. The tender outlines that “It is envisaged that c. 2 000 new homes, a new school, a healthy living centre and new commercial units will be built in the area. This site will have a high proportion of new build, medium rise social housing blocks and as such is well suited to a heat network. London Borough of Brent is procuring the services of an energy service company to finance, design, build, manage and maintain a decentralised energy system which will provide heat with a combination of CHP and boilers to the new residential and non-residential units for a period of 40 years.”

The Council is looking to a company to install the necessary infrastructure including heat pipes to establish a linked network and to distribute the heat to each building via the network. The investment required to realise the scheme is estimated by the Council to be of the order of £67m.

Additional information on the project including a timeline for the approval for the contract are provided in the following Brent Council document.

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Reductions to Warm Front Grants in West Ham and Newham

10 Feb 2012: London has historically fared poorly under the Government’s Warm Front programme, as has been detailed in earlier posts here. There’s been some criticism of Warm Front in recent weeks (see here and here) that, despite Government cuts made  in 2011, there has been a significant underspend to the programme this year.

NEA have reported that London has seen a 67 per cent reduction in applications over the period March – December 2011 when compared with the same period in the previous year (a similar reduction has been seen in other regions).

West Ham MP Lyn Brown has recently asked DECC a Parliamentary Question about the level of Warm Front grants provided in her constituency and in the wider Newham area. The full answer can be seen here (scroll to column 274).

In summary:
West Ham saw a Warm Front spend-high in 2008/09 of £517,913 with 540 homes assisted.
Similarly Newham saw a Warm Front high the same year with a spend of £1,369,686 and 1340 homes assisted.

Provisional figures for 2011/12 are only available at the moment but they serve to  illustrate the level of reduction:

West Ham has seen a spend of £94,736 with only 32 homes assisted.
Newham has seen a spend of £219,503 and 70 homes assisted.

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‘Croydon Council approve plan which would allow for the planned incinerator’

2  February 2012: The Croydon Guardian reports that “Croydon Council approve plan which would allow for the planned incinerator.” Read full story here. Earlier Croydon Guardian coverage here, here and here.

Further information on this scheme also available on an earlier post.

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Food waste could provide London with new gas supply

January 2012: An article highlighting how Creative Health Lab, a social enterprise based in North London, are working towards developing a small scale, community Anaerobic Digestion (AD) project. AD projects in the UK at present are generally large, industrial scale technologies, but Creative Health Lab want to see the technology scaled down to a more local micro- level. The project LEAP project (the Local Energy Adventure Partnership) is currently looking at two North London sites where they can begin trialling the small-scale AD technology. Read the full article here.

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Five London Community Energy projects awarded Government funding

16 January 2012: DECC today announced the first 82 local energy projects to win funding from the new £10m Local Energy Assessment Fund (LEAF).  Five projects in London were selected:

Congratulations all!

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‘Why I’m lending my voice to community renewable schemes’

December 2011: Guardian posted article by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall about the energyshare initiative, created to help support and promote community-led sustainable energy projects. Energyshare – together with funding from British Gas – have just finalised (yesterday) their current competition, allowing supporters to  vote for their favourite community energy project, with winners being awarded up to £100,000 funding. Four projects have been selected – none unfortunately in London – but all worth reading about! Further information here.

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Retrofit Energy Efficiency Planning Guidance for Camden

November 2011: Camden has over 60 per cent of its properties in ‘conservation areas’ and to help householders assess the range of energy efficiency and renewable energy retrofit opportunities available to them, Camden has produced Retrofitting Planning Guidance which “sets out a range of measures that householders can carry out and explains the necessary planning consents that are required for these works.” The guide is detailed and provides case studies of some typical properties in the borough that would be suitable for retrofitting, and then outlines which measures would be permitted and which would require additional consultation with the council.

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The number of Excess Winter Deaths

October 2011: Excerpts from the Hills Fuel Poverty Report on the number of Excess Winter Deaths (EWD) arising as a result of fuel poverty.
[page 3]
Living in cold homes has a series of effects on illness and mental health. But the most serious is its contribution to Britain’s unusually high rates of ‘excess winter deaths’. There are many contributors to this problem, but even if only a tenth of them are due directly to fuel poverty, that means that 2,700 people in England and Wales are dying each year as a result – more than the number killed in traffic accidents.
[page 9]
Most dramatically, the UK has a higher rate of ‘excess winter deaths’ than other countries with colder climates. While the number in England and Wales has fallen from around 40,000 per year in the 1970s to around 27,000 per year in the last decade, this is comparable to more than ten times the number of transport-related deaths in 2009.
[page 71]
Compared to other western European countries, the UK has a high rate of excess winter mortality. From 1988-1997, on average 18 per cent of the UK’s winter deaths were excess, compared to the 10-12 per cent observed in typically colder countries such as Finland, Sweden and Norway
[page 73]
…EWDs appear to be related more to the number of very cold days people are exposed to, rather than the average temperature throughout the winter period. The Eurowinter Group compared two regions with similar average winter temperatures – London and a group of cities in Northern Italy – and observed that from 1988-1992  London experienced over 115 days below 18ºC more than Northern Italy. London also experienced four times as many EWDs on days where the temperature dropped below 18ºC over the same time period. This indicates that despite having similar average winter temperatures, London had a higher number of cold days, and more EWDs for each of those cold days experienced.

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Giant Belvedere incinerator enters operational phase

19 October 2011: EDIE news article on the new waste to energy plant in Bexley: “One of Europe’s biggest energy recovery plants, the Belvedere incinerator, is about undergo detailed assessment and performance trials before it officially opens in 2013.” Read full article on link above. Further information on the scheme can be read in a briefing note prepared following a visit to the site by local councillors.

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