Tag Archives: Renewable Energy

‘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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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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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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A field study of urban microclimates in London

December 2014: Open access paper published in the January 2015 issue of Renewable Energy.

“This paper aims to address the characteristics of urban microclimates that affect the building energy performance and implementation of the renewable energy technologies. An experimental campaign was designed to investigate the microclimate parameters including air and surface temperature, direct and diffuse solar irradiation levels on both horizontal and vertical surfaces, wind speed and direction in a dense urban area in London. The outcomes of this research reveal that the climatic parameters are significantly influenced by the attributes of urban textures, which highlight the need for both providing the microclimatic information and using them in buildings design stages. This research provides a valuable set of microclimatic information for a dense urban area in London. According to the outcomes of this research, the feasibility study for implementation of renewable energy technologies and the thermal/energy performance assessment of buildings need to be conducted using the microclimatic information rather than the meteorological weather data mostly collected from non-urban environments.”

Available to download here.

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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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Contribution of wood burning to PM10 in London

14 December 2014: Sunday Times article covering how ‘Wood-fired stoves fuel city pollution‘. The author points to evidence supporting the article’s findings in an academic paper (fully available) published earlier this year in the journal ‘Atmospheric Environment‘ ‘Contribution of wood burning to PM10 in London‘:

“Air pollution from domestic wood burning has long been recognised as an important contributor to poor ambient air quality in Scandinavian and alpine regions of Europe where wood burning is routinely used for residential space heating. However, recent evidence is suggesting that biomass burning might be more widespread…The current study sought to determine the existing contribution of wood burning to PM10 in London so that the impacts of increased biomass burning can be quantified in the future.

 

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£10m Urban Community Energy Fund launched

January 27 2014: The Government’s new Community Energy Strategy is being launched today and press reports have highlighted that it will include a new £10m Urban Community Energy Fund (UCEF).  This mirrors the existing Rural Community Energy Fund, and is clearly welcome news for London-based community-led energy projects.

This fund will be open to non-rural communities and will provide up to approximately £150,000 of funding for feasibility and pre-planning development work to help projects become investment ready. The funding will be available in two stages:

  • Stage one will be a grant of up to approximately £20,000 for feasibility of renewable energy projects.
  • Stage two will be a loan of up to approximately £130,000 to support pre-planning development work, planning applications and to develop robust business cases to attract further development.

No details as yet to when the Fund will be launched or how long it will operate for. Hopefully this will all become apparent later today…

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London Overground Energy Gardens Network

January 2014: Recently appointed as one of the Mayor’s London Leaders’, hear about Agamemnon Otero’s fascinating project to create an “EnergyGarden Network at stations on the Overground Rail lines with solar panels and vegetable gardens will address food and energy inequality in communities“.

 

Agamemnon is also CEO of Repowering London.

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Potential for biodiesel from use cooking oil and FOGs in London

November 2013: The Mayor announced today that TfL will be deploying 12o buses from the Barking depot which will run on a blend of 80 per cent regular diesel and 20 per cent biodiesel. The press release states that “Biodiesel is a renewable, clean-burning fuel made from used cooking oil from the catering industry and tallow which is a residue from the meat processing trade. It is estimated that buses running on biodiesel produce 15 per cent less ‘well to wheel’ carbon emissions than an ordinary diesel-powered bus…No mechanical change is needed to allow a bus to run on a 20% blend of biofuel. The biodiesel in this trial is being supplied by Argent Energy with the standard diesel supplied by Prax Petroleum.”

The GLA also commissioned consultants LRS to produce a report on the market 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. The report can be downloaded here and sets out to “evaluate the potential to reduce the emissions and carbon footprint of the bus fleet in London by using up to B30 biodiesel instead of petrodiesel. Additional sustainability benefits would be achieved by using biodiesel made from used cooking oil (UCO) and fats, oils and greases (FOGs) instead of virgin oils.”

The report references recent disputes in London over UCO (see Daily Telegraph story here) stating “only 3-4 years ago illegal disposal of UCO down drains was recognised to be a significant issue, recently the demand for UCO has soared and led to ‘Cooking Oil Wars’, whereby collectors pay increasingly escalating prices to commercial organisations for UCO.”

In terms of London’s potential to produce biodiesel, on the basis of national estimates, the report suggests that using the “ratio of London’s population to the national population and uplifting to reflect the greater concentration of catering establishments in London gives an estimate of 32-44 million litres of UCO waste arisings in the London area. There are nearly 24,000 food and beverage service activities in London, along with a further 835 businesses in London working in the food manufacturing sector, most of which contribute to the production of UCOs. In particular London has over 8,000 fast food outlets, with some of the highest concentrations of such food outlets in the country.”
Lot of interesting findings in this comprehensive report. More on biodiesel use in London here.

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Boris sets out his support for both nuclear & fracking

15 September 2013: The Mayor has decided to set forth his views on UK energy policy in the national press once again. After writing to The Times back in July (see below), Boris has now penned a piece for The Sun (behind paywall…but fortunately reported elsewhere), where he states that: “the country needs to ‘grow some collective cojones and launch the nuclear energy programme that this country has too long delayed… Next, we must stop pussy-footing around, and get fracking. Even if we have 100s of fracking pads, they are nothing like as ugly as windmills, and they can be dismantled as soon as the gas is extracted.”

The Mayor continues in a similar vein in the article (also reported here ‘Boris on our ‘pathetic apology’ for an energy policy‘) railing against wind turbines – echoing views from a radio interview he undertook on LBC earlier this year (Wind farms couldn’t pull the skin off a rice pudding, says Boris Johnson).

Boris has previously used his weekly Daily Telegraph column to champion gas fracking (Ignore the doom merchants, Britain should get fracking) and much of the commentary for The Sun article was previously set out in a letter the Mayor sent to the The Times a few months ago:

” Sir, Many people have not yet woken up to the reality that the population of London is now growing faster than any city in Europe. As I make clear in our 2020 Vision, this demographic explosion is placing huge demands on our infrastructure — including power generation. It is a tragic comment on Labour’s failure to plan ahead that in only two years our electricity capacity headroom (the difference between demand and supply) will be down to 2 per cent. We will have to ask some of our more energy-intensive industries not to operate at peak times, the kind of policy we last saw in the 1970s. It is time for maximum boldness in energy supply. I fully support the Government’s drive for nuclear power, and if reserves of shale can be exploited in London we should leave no stone unturned, or unfracked, in the cause of keeping the lights on.
Boris Johnson Mayor of London” July 2 2013

That letter was a response to energy regulator Ofgem’s capacity report which set out that “electricity supplies are set to tighten faster than previously expected in the middle of this decade”. Energy security appears to have become a greater concern to the Mayor since raised by London businesses, and has led to the establishment of a London ‘High Level Electricity Working Group‘ coordinated by the GLA.

Whilst security of energy supply issues are a real concern, the Mayor’s choice of solutions are of no real help at all. Nuclear negotiations have stalled over the past year, and even if agreement were reached today, the first power produced by a new nuclear plant is the best part of a decade away – well after the 2015 capacity concerns. Discussions around shale gas have become increasingly polarised: whatever the final outcome, it is unlikely that fracked gas will have any significant role to play in the nation’s energy mix for some time.

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Mayor’s Energy Advisor Visits Brixton Energy

September 2013: It seems the Brixton Energy Solar (BES) projects are the place to be seen! Following visits from Labour Shadow Energy Minister Luciana Berger back in 2012, and a joint visit by the Secretary of State for Energy and the Minister for Energy (Ed Davey MP and Greg Barker MP respectively) earlier this summer, where the Government’s Community Energy Call for Evidence paper was launched, the Mayor’s Energy & Environment Advisor Matthew Pencharz paid a visit to the team and project in August.

Flagging Matthew on the left and right are BES Directors Agamemnon Otero and Andre Pinho.

PS … And good to see Labour Shadow Secretary of State for Business – and Streatham MP – Chuka Umuna visiting the Brixton site on 13 September alongside Imogen Walker, Lambeth’s cabinet member for Environment & Sustainability & Labour councillor for Stockwell. It will be interesting to see what – if anything! – these high profile visitors can do to help support the growth of community-led energy schemes in London…

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