Tag Archives: Photovoltaics

Why London’s next mayor should set up a municipal energy supply company

March 2016: An article on Citymetric by Jenny Jones of the London Assembly Green Party providing a useful summary of a report commissioned by her, and published in December 2015,  looking at the opportunity for a new Mayor to set up a London municipal energy supply company.

Jenny Jones states that my proposal would go beyond License Lite and instead establish a fully licensed not-for-profit energy supply business. This would manage TfL’s significant and growing electricity requirements, and extend supply services to London’s homes and businesses.”

This proposal was adopted this February by Green Party candidate for the London Mayoral 2016 election, Sian Berry, who has set out in a briefing note what a new London Energy Company would prioritise.

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How London’s giant floating solar farm was put together

23 March 2016: A new BBC London TV news story providing some added background to Europe’s biggest floating solar farm which is being built in south west London.

The project:

  • Took three months to build
  • Is installed at the Queen Elizabeth Reservoir at Walton on Thames, just outside of Kingston, and is the size of eight football pitches
  • Consists of 23,000 solar panels attached to floats allowing the panels to sit on the water
  • Will contribute to Thames Water target to generate 33% of its energy demand from renewable energy by 2020
  • Has had to be installed quickly to meet the 31 March 2016 deadline for large solar projects under the Government’s Renewable Obligation policy.
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London’s floating solar array – video

17 March 2016: There has rightly been a lot of press around an innovative floating PV array which is currently being constructed in the west of London near Heathrow. The project has been covered in The Guardian, BBC,  and a helpful video visiting the site has just recently been posted online by EnergyLiveNews.

Details of the solar array follow below:

  • The project is being funded and developed by Lightsource and Ennoviga for Thames Water (see their press release here)  at their Queen Elizabeth II reservoir, near Walton-on-Thames, in Surrey.
  • The array will consist of 23,000 solar panels with a total generating capacity of 6.3MW
  • The electricity will be used to part power Thames Water’s nearby water treatment works
  • It’s not the first floating solar farm in the UK – that’s a United Utilities project in Manchester – but it is the biggest such scheme in Europe.
  • Treehugger usefully mentions that “…the water keeps the solar panels cool, which helps the solar panels to perform better and last longer and the water itself benefits from the panels being there. In the case of reservoirs, the panels block out sunlight so it keeps algae growth to a minimum and reduces water evaporation to keep the reservoirs full.”

This project goes to highlight the hugely flexible nature of solar and the huge potential for PV that could exist across the capital across many sites when properly supported.

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Energy & Climate Change Questions to the Mayor

October 2015: This month the Mayor has been asked questions in relation to: the number of London projects awarded funding from government’s Urban Community Energy Fund (UCEF); minutes of the London Plan Energy Advisory Group meetings; helping reduce energy bills for Londoners who have electric heating; GLA loan to Tempus Energy; the impact of the closure of the Green Deal; minimum energy efficiency standards on London’s Private Rented Sector; support for the Governor of the Bank of England’s recent comments on carbon disclosure (and again) ; the FIT consultation and it’s impact on London’s solar industry (and again here); suppliers on the Mayor’s new RE:NEW energy efficiency retrofit framework; London Pension Fund Authority (LPFA) investment in the fossil fuel sector; projected returns from investments made by the London Energy Efficiency Fund (LEEF); planning approval of the Beddington incinerator; a health impact assessment for Beddington incinerator; London Plan requirements for borough planning carbon offset funds; London business risk and financial exposure to a ‘carbon bubble‘; climate sceptic views; Greenwich Power Station update; LED lighting on the Great West Road; production of BioSNG in London; tackling fuel poverty; the rollout of smart meters in London; supporting London businesses resilience to climate change; and an update to the License Lite process.

Previous months questions to the Mayor can be found here.

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Mayor pulls no punches in FIT consultation response

23 October 2015: The Mayor has posted his submission to DECC’s Feed in Tariff (FIT) consultation online today (the deadline for the response) alongside a letter to Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom, from Deputy Mayor for Energy & the Environment, Matthew Pencharz.

The letter pulls no punches, stating “Unfortunately, the proposals that have been consulted on, with little or no prior warning, to come into force, in the new year has created great uncertainty in the solar PV industry, potentially putting at threat thousands of jobs across the UK. The Mayor is concerned about the potential impact on the 3,100 jobs, mainly in SMEs, which make up the solar PV industry in London.”

“The Mayor’s view is that in order to ensure an orderly transition to subsidy-free solar PV industry, there should be a gradual tapering of the FIT over a two-three year period.”

The Mayor has voiced his concerns over DECC’s proposals for some months now (see previous statement here) and his sentiments for a ‘gradual tapering’ echo calls from industry organisations, such as the Solar Trade Association, who have strongly campaigned against the proposed ‘cliff edge’ withdrawal of support for solar, setting out their own recommendations in a ‘£1 plan‘ to 2019.

The Mayor’s response to the FIT consultation goes on to raise a number of highly relevant issues for London, including:

  • the proposed cuts to the FIT could significantly hamper solar PV deployment rates in London, which already face major rollout challenges, including negatively impacting upon the delivery of Mayor’s retrofit programmes, RE:NEW and RE:FIT
  • the proposed tightening of the energy efficiency criteria would prevent a large number of properties in London from installing solar PV without significant investment in energy efficiency improvements, for which there is no longer support available following the termination of the Green Deal
  • whilst a move towards smart metering with net metering functionality is welcome, making it a requirement for receipt of the export tariff would require a commitment or obligation on the energy suppliers to install a smart meter in a timely manner, as well as ensuring that the property was currently suitable for installation of a smart meter – an issue which arises frequently in London.

The Mayor’s response also raise concerns about the impact of the proposals on community energy projects in London. All in all, this is a significant intervention by the Mayor in what has become a highly politicised consultation.

At a recent DECC FIT workshop, officials have said they are looking to respond to the consultation by late November/early December (this is needed as the consultation proposes to introduce changes to the FIT programme as early as January 2016!). With the number of responses predicted to be in the thousands (the shorter-run FIT pre-accreditation consultation had over 2,000 responses), and with the threat of major job cuts in the department, it looks like it’s going to be a busy few weeks over at 3 Whitehall Place…

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LSDC Chair “Solar needs a bold plan”

16 October 2015: Chair of the London Sustainable Development Commission (LSDC) Lord Barker of Battle – who was previously an energy Minister at DECC – has written to The Times with regard to the government’s plans to reduce support for solar through the Feed in Tariffs (FITs) stating that the “current proposals are catastrophic.” The full text of the letter can be seen below:

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Energy & Climate Change Questions to the Mayor

September 2015: This month the Mayor has been asked questions in relation to:

data gathered through the Mayor’s Business Energy Challenge; the impact on the London Plan carbon targets as a result of the government scrapping the Zero Carbon Homes policy (and again) and again – and one more time; encouraging renewable energy investments through the London Pension Fund Authority (LPFA); a discussion around potential winter electricity ‘blackouts’; impact of the government’s proposals to change the Feed in Tariffs (FITs) on the Mayor’s retrofit programmes – and again; lobbying to reduce business rates to district heating – and again; whether the Mayor will attend COP21 in Paris this December; the Clean Bus Summit recently held in London; fuel economy of the New Routemaster bus (and again, and again); a dossier of problems associated with the New Routemaster; GLA and boroughs discussions on coordinating fuel poverty responses across London; the roll out of electric vehicles in London; and supporting zero emission taxi fleets.

Previous months questions to the Mayor can be found here.

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Energy & Climate Questions to the Mayor

January 2015:  This month the Mayor has been asked questions in relation to:

Fuel Povery and Children; Meetings of the Mayor’s London Green Infrastructure Task Force;  Membership of the Mayor’s London Green Infrastructure Task Force;  London Plan policies encouraging development of solar farms;  consideration of carbon emissions in policy decision making
Invitation to attend the European Capital Cities meeting ahead of the Paris 2015 IPCC summit; Progress made in 2014 to delivering the London Climate Change Adaptation Strategy; Measuring CO2 emissions across the GLA Group; An update on the GLA group’s Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) reports; the Mayor’s concern over increasing signs of climate change; GLA Economics analysis on energy
Communication to the Treasury over tax incentives for community energy projects; TfL’s hedging policy on energy prices; Misleading information on shale gas; Reallocation of RE:NEW funds to RE:FIT programme; Havering Solar Farm planning application; New powers to Ofgem; RE:NEW programme underspend; An update on RE:NEW programme projectionsResearch commissioned by the GLA’s Environment Team
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Energy & Climate Questions to the Mayor

December 2014:  This month the Mayor has been asked questions in relation to:

alternative energy for maritime facilities;  the Mayor’s Energy Advisor’s letter to the Treasury to support tax incentives to help community energy projects; the Belvedere Energy from Waste plant and the Viridor Energy Recovery plant in Beddington, Sutton; the Mayor’s Energy Advisor’s visit to Shanghai and Beijing; the Mayor’s support for minimum energy efficiency standards in the private rented sector; Crossrail stations using decentralised energy; whether the Mayor supports the call for energy efficiency to be made a UK infrastructure priority; research commissioned by the GLA Environment Team this year costing more than £10,000; Islington Council’s recent success at the Energy Institute Awards; TfL officers responsible for examining the potential for solar energy; and again for the Metropolitan Police Service; TfL’s total electricity spend – and the the proportion of electricity it plans to source for low carbon generators in London; whether TfL has undertaken an assessment of solar PV potential across its estate; meetings the Mayor has had with the London Sustainable Development Commission; the amount of solar PV installed across the Met Police’s estate; and also TfL’s estate; a programme for deploying solar across the Met Police’s estate; the Mayor’s support for Cold Homes Week 2015; Excess Winter Mortality (EWM) statistics for London; the number of children in London living in fuel poverty; the number of Londoners living in fuel poverty; if the Mayor had worked with Public Health England on fuel poverty issues; how the Mayor will be helping London households in fuel poverty this winter; Mayoral support for anaerobic digestion facilities in London; the Mayor’s support to older Londoners in fuel poverty; decentralised energy support unit (DEPDU) work on the North London Heat and Power project; the number of RE:NEW households visited with children; RE:NEW programme progress reports; companies on the RE:NEW programme procurement framework and discussions with Brent Council on fracking.

Previous months questions to the Mayor can be found here.

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Energy and Climate Questions to the Mayor

July 2014: This month the Mayor has been asked questions in relation to:

Mayoral involvement with the Local Government Climate Roadmap; organisations operating at the London Sustainable Industries Park; potential for the London Pension Fund Authority (LPFA) to invest in low carbon London projects; whether Energy Performance Certificate or Green Deal assessments will be provided for homes that go through the RE:NEW programme; monitoring high energy consuming buildings in London; reductions in forecasted projections of CO2 savings in Mayor’s energy supply programme; Transport for London’s (TfL) Energy Strategy; the Mayor’s Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with energy suppliers; visit by Mayor’s energy advisor to Camden’s biomethane refuelling station; correspondence with DCLG on the Mayor being able to set London specific energy efficiency targets in planning rules for new development; meetings with DECC over encouraging the use of solar PV on GLA land and building; new district heating network using heat from Greenwich Power Station; the low take up of ECO energy efficiency programme in London; connecting Whitehall District Heating Scheme to Pimlico District Heating Undertaking;  the Mayor’s response to a recent London Solar Energy report by Green Party London Assembly member Jenny Jones; future TfL electricity costs; whether the Mayor responded to the Government’s recent solar PV consultation; concerns over government changes to the ECO as raised by the Mayor; funding for the next round of the RE:NEW programme; energy efficiency requirements in the private rented sector; monies received by the Green Bus Fund; work being undertaken to assess the economic impact to London as a result of climate change; attendance at the World Mayors Summit of Climate Change; planning offset funds; contract awarded for management of the RE:NEW programme; and if the Mayor’s High Level Electricity Working Group has considered solar PV.

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London Solar Story

July 2014: Helpful new map of PV projects installed in London by Solar Century. The London Solar Story highlights that “While many rooftop solar installations go unnoticed by people below, some are more visible. London is home to the world’s largest solar bridge, spanning the River Thames, more than 6,000m² of solar panels on Blackfriars Bridge generate enough solar electricity to meet half the station’s energy needs. This iconic solar landmark can be seen on this solar map. If you are passing by, the solar panels on the Bridge can be spotted from north and south of the river, with excellent views from the Millennium Bridge.”


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Haringey Solar Event

June 2014: Organised by Tottenham and Wood Green Friends of the Earth group. Details here.

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