Tag Archives: Photovoltaics

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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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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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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“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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Latest London PV statistics

August 2016: The last set of sub regional Feed in Tariff (FIT) statistics published by DECC – before it is merged with the business department into BEIS – were published last week (available here). London PV data – alongside other UK regions – is reproduced below.

Table 1. Cumulative installations confirmed on the Central Feed-in Tariff Register by Region

Table 2. Cumulative capacity confirmed on the Central Feed-in Tariff Register by Region

So – as at the end of June 2016:

  • London had 20,551 PV installations (95% of which were domestic installations) with a total combined electrical generating capacity of 83.911MW.
  • London’s capacity represented just 2% of total UK PV generating capacity
  • The last FIT quarterly data set (for data up to the end of March 2016) reported that London had 20,123 PV installations in London and 81.623 MW – indicating a 2.28MW increase in capacity over the last three months.
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Energy and Climate Questions to the Mayor

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

an update on a GLA study to evaluate the potential for the use trackside solar power production; Post Brexit, how the Mayor will use his role in the Brexit negotiating team to preserve the hard-fought environmental protections; the number of decentralised energy projects that are projected to come online this year; how the Mayor can encourage Londoners to switch energy suppliers; an estimate of the number of connections that will be provided with heat from the Beddington energy from waste plant to the Sutton Decentralised Energy Network (SDEN) – and whether Barratt Homes has signed a heat agreement with the plant’s operator, Viridor; whether the Mayor will respond to the Government’s recently released Energy Company Obligation (ECO) consultation;
work to encourage energy efficiency improvements in the private rented sector (PRS);
the RE:NEW home energy efficiency retrofit programme’s strategy over the coming year; the number of jobs linked to the green economy in London; the Mayor’s role with C40 Cities, and borough surface water management plans

Previous months questions to the Mayor can be found here.

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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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The UK’s first solar bus shelter opens in Canary Wharf

11 April 2016: “The UK’s first solar power generating bus stop has been opened in Canary Wharf. Designed by Polysolar Ltd it is made with transparent photovoltaic glazing, which captures the sun’s rays even in low light. It was unveiled on Friday, April 8, outside the HSBC building in Canada Square by London Mayoral candidate Sian Berry.” Read the full story in The Wharf  – with more on this story at Gizmag.

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Nearly three quarters of Londoners want next Mayor to back solar

11 April 2016: Results of a Greenpeace poll published today – “A poll of 1007 people carried out by Mora consulting found that 73.2% of Londoners (and 70% of undecided voters) thought it was either very or quite important that the next mayor take steps to make London a leading city for solar power.” Read the full story on the results here.

This builds on a report published by Greenpeace UK – undertaken by Energy for London – on potential London solar initiatives for an incoming Mayor.

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Mayoral manifestoes energy and climate proposals

April 2016: With the publication last week of the manifesto of the Liberal Democrat’s Caroline Pidgeon, all four major London Mayoral candidates have now set out their proposals in relation to energy and climate if they were to become Mayor. I’ve produced a  summary of these proposals, across various categories of interest, in the following document.

The first thing to notice is the welcome inclusion of energy and climate proposals across all manifestoes: a wide number issues are addressed, but some common themes do emerge:

  • The first – and most significant – pledge around energy to emerge from the manifestoes is that all four main candidates have set out their intention to establish a new London government based energy business.  Zac Goldsmith references the work that Boris has taken forward  over the past few years in advancing Licence Lite – but states he “will go further to set up ‘Energy for London – a new clean energy company'”. Sadiq Khan will establish ‘Energy for Londoners’ and both Caroline Pidgeon and Sian Berry state the will establish a new London energy company  – Sian saying that this new business concern will be linked to Transport for London (the detail of which has been previously set out in a Jenny Jones commissioned report).
  • Worryingly, no candidate commits to working to achieve two long standing London climate targets: the 60 per cent 2025 carbon reduction target and the 25 per cent 2025 decentralised energy target.
  • All candidates are keen on electric cars, with Zac Goldsmith pledging to introduce Paris’s Autolib electric car rental scheme to London – something Boris has talked about doing since 2009.
  • There are warm words for support for developing community energy projects in London – with most detail set out in Zac Goldsmith’s manifesto.
  • Sian Berry and Zac Goldsmith haven’t given up on the Green Deal model – both propose to investigate a London pay-as-you-save energy efficiency retrofit initiative. Caroline Pidgeon interestingly supports working with London councils to introduce a ‘consequential improvements’ policy – a proposal that Government scrapped back in 2012 – a decision which significantly contributed to the eventual demise of the Green Deal.
  • All candidates support increasing the number of solar power installations in London with Caroline Pidgeon and Zac Goldsmith committing to specific targets – PV capacity equivalent to 200,000 homes/750MW/a 10 fold increase in solar – all of which amounts to around the same thing (see Greenpeace’s London solar report) which has contributed to candidates consideration on the future of solar in the capital.

All in all, it’s massively encouraging that energy concerns and their relevancy to the future of London have been recognised across all main manifestoes. Issues such as reducing the city’s contribution and response to climate change, increasing energy affordability, and  accelerating the deployment of measures to enhance energy efficiency and decentralised energy are promoted by all candidates, which gives confidence that GLA programmes in place, such as RE:NEW, RE:FIT, DEPDU and others will continue to be supported by an incoming Mayor.

Some omissions from the manifestoes which it would have been good to have seen including advancing smarter energy initiatives (such as building on the work the GLA are doing with Tempus Energy and Kiwi Power), addressing potential energy security of supply issues in the capital (an issue previously raised by the Mayor and an area of GLA activity through the Mayor’s High Level Electricity Working Group), energy efficiency in the commercial building sector (a significant and difficult issue for Mayor, with next to no regulatory powers over existing buildings…), and how new sustainable energy activities going forward will be financed.  However – despite these concerns – this has been a great start providing much to build upon!

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