Tag Archives: Renewable Energy

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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Latest review of implementation of London Plan energy policies

September 2013: The GLA have recently produced their latest update on how the energy and climate policies in London’s spatial planning strategy – the London Plan – have helped drive forward the development of lower carbon buildings in the capital. The new 2013 report – along with previous years studies – can be downloaded here. An earlier post here provides some details on these reports.

The study ‘Energy Planning: Monitoring the implementation of London Plan energy policies in 2012‘ provides an analysis of the energy assessments relating to all finalised (stage II) planning applications determined from 1 January to 31 December 2012. As the Executive Summary of the report sets out “London planning authorities must consult the Mayor on all planning applications that are of strategic importance to London . For each planning application referable to the Mayor, an energy assessment is required setting out how the development will meet the London Plan energy policies. Following the order of the Mayor’s energy hierarchy, each energy assessment is required to set out how the development will:

  • Use less energy
  • Supply energy efficiently
  • Use renewable energy”

The analysis highlights how the London Plan’s policies are making significant headway in helping drive forward the development of more energy efficient, climate-friendly buildings in London. Some of the findings include:

  • High levels of energy demand reduction achieved with developments exceeding the requirements of Building Regulations through energy efficiency alone. The associated investment of circa £32 million will help to reduce consumers’ energy bills.
  • Circa £20 million of investment in new, high efficiency combined heat and power (CHP) plant able to produce 29MW of electricity and a similar amount of heat.
  • 74MW of cumulative CHP electrical capacity has been secured through the planning process since 2010 to the end of 2012, broadly equivalent to the capacity required to supply 150,000 homes.
  • Circa £133 million of investment in heat network infrastructure for approximately 53,000 communally heated dwellings
  • Continued investment in on-site renewable energy systems, including approximately £16 million to provide circa 87,000m2 of photovoltaic solar panels.
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Energy & Climate Questions to the Mayor

May 2013: This month the Mayor has been asked questions in relation to:

whether the Mayor had signed up to the London Big Energy Switch; whether the Mayor had signed up to the Green Deal; making Greenwich Power station a low-carbon generator;  the London Energy and Greenhouse Gas Inventory (LEGGI); discussions with DECC over increasing levels of fuel poverty in London; the Mayor’s response to the Government’s consultation on a new definition for fuel poverty – (link to actual response document here); the growth of fuel poverty in London’s private rented sector; a new power station for London; energy and climate issues in Transport for London’s business plan; decentralised energy and the London Infrastructure Group; meetings with energy supplier companies on the ECO in London; the impact of rising energy prices on London’s economy; the poor uptake of photovoltaics in London; renewable energy supply to London Underground; the use of recycled cooking oil in London’s bus fleet; the number of job losses in the insulation industry in London; how the London Enterprise Panel’s Skills & Employment Working Group will promote green jobs; the number of ‘green’ double decker buses in London; the number ‘green’ single decker buses in London’; emissions related to the ‘New bus for London’; the Shoreditch Heat Network; the Citigen CHP scheme; Guidance on Low Carbon Cooling systems; zero carbon heating at the Tate modern; minutes of the High Level Electricity Working Group; future changes in London’s weather; climate change in the national curriculum; petition to remove climate change from the national curriculum; carbon emissions and projects supported under the Growing Places Fund the RE:NEW evaluation report and an update on the Mayor’s electricity ‘license lite’ application.

Previous months questions to the Mayor can be found here.

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Biomethane and Gas Vehicle Conference

April 2013:  The UK  Biomethane and Gas Vehicle Conference is being held at City Hall by the Royal Borough of Greenwich, Defra, the Transport KTN, Cleaner Air for London, the LowCVP and the ADBA on 5 June 2013. Free to attend, the conference will bring together 120 professionals from the AD industry, local authorities, government departments and agencies, supermarkets, fleet operators and those interested in the development of biomethane for transport to discuss a wide range of issues. Full details here.

The Mayor has recently stated that London as yet does not operate any biomethane buses, and highlighted the biomethane filling station in Camden, where he states that he is looking at the potential to increase the use of bio-methane and other low emission alternative fuels in London’s transport sector and would like other boroughs and organisations to install and promote clean alternative fuels and refuelling stations, such as what is being provided in Camden.” More on Camden’s York Way Compressed biomethane gas refuelling station here.

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Enfield Biomass CHP Update

19 March 2013: Updates from developer Kedco of the biomass combined heat and power (CHP) plant being developed in Enfield (see previous post here for a lot more detail on the scheme).

The Telegraph reports that “The project, which has full planning and environmental permission for the conversion of 60,000 tonnes of waste timber per annum into up to 12MW of electricity and heat, remains on track to reach financial close and start construction in the third quarter of 2013. Chief executive Gerry Madden said: “The company has a clear plan in place for the Enfield Biomass CHP project with the key objective being to reach financial close by Q3 2013.

“Given the flagship nature of the project, which is located in the London area within the M25, the company is pleased to have received numerous enquiries from various parties interested in participating in the project, and we look forward to finalising this shortly.”

Kedco’s website additionally states that: “The company has had discussions with a number of potential large blue chip offtakers for both the electricity and heat which will be generated by the project.”

Further information on a press report here.

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Energy and Climate Questions to the Mayor

March 2013: This month the Mayor has been asked questions in relation to:

Collective Switching initiative by boroughs; details on decentralised energy projects being delivered by the Mayor; Mayoral response to the Government’s ECO brokerage consultation; the spend timeline for DECC funding to the GLA and boroughs; the GLA response to the Government’s consultation on the definition of fuel poverty; the impact of sun spots on London’s CO2 emissions; a London target for ECO; progress on delivering the Green Deal through the Mayor’s RE:NEW programme; recently published GLA environment reports; recent meetings of the Mayor’s Environment Adviser; the Mayor’s position on climate change; the commissioning of Weather Action; CHP capacity secured through planning in 2012; Sutton energy from waste plant; the Mayor’s support for solar power in London; emissions from the new London Bus; support from the DfT’s Green Bus Fund to TfL; changes being made to the  Congestion Change Exemption; details of the Greener Vehicle Discount; support for biomethane buses in London; Camden’s biomethane fuelling station; RE:NEW’s support to tackling fuel poverty and the list of non-GLA organisations that have utilised the RE:FIT programme.

Previous months questions to the Mayor can be found here.

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The growth in community led energy projects in Germany

January 2013: BBC Radio 4’s environment programme, Costing the Earth, has this week looked at the energy market changes in Germany –  with the planned closure in nuclear being replaced by a  massive shift to renewables – and the significant role that community energy groups are playing in helping with this change. Further information on the programme – Berlin’s Big Gamble here. The programme is available as a podcast here.

A recent news report highlighted that there are “more than 80,000 German citizens have come together in some 600 energy cooperatives” and a 2012 report covering co-op groups energy projects in Germany ‘Citizens, communities and local economy in good company‘ states that these groups have invested over 800 million euros in renewable energy schemes.

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Waltham Forest continues to lead on PV

January 2013: DECC have released their latest quarterly dataset of “Sub-regional statistics show [ing] the number of installations and total installed capacity by technology type at the end the latest quarter that have been confirmed on the Central FIT Register (CFR)”. [DECC weblink;  Excel file] The data provides a useful breakdown of installations under the Feed in Tariff (FIT) programme by ‘local authorities’ and also ‘parliamentary constituency’. The top 10  London boroughs by total installs of PV (photovoltaic) installations under the FITs programme (which started in April 2010) is provided below.

Waltham Forest 861
Bromley 730
Croydon 577
Havering 491
Bexley 404
Richmond upon Thames 397
Barnet 394
Ealing 383
Redbridge 336
Lewisham 315

Points to note:

  • Waltham Forest continues to be the local authority with the most number of total PV installs
  • By comparing the latest dataset to the previous October 2012 dataset, it can also be seen that Waltham Forest had the highest number of PV installs over the past quarter (136) – 3-4 times as much as the next nearest boroughs (Bromley (49), Croydon (33) and Havering (32)
  • Over the last three quarters London has seen a small drop in its percentage of total PV installs as a proportion of the UK total – from 2.79% to 2.76%
  • Further comparison of PVs in London compared to other UK regions can be seen here.
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Comparing PV in London to other regions

January 2013: With the publication of Ofgem’s new  FITs newsletter (Quarterly Report 10 – December 2012 which looks at data up to September 2012) – it’s useful to look at back at the data over the past 10 issues and see how the capital has been faring under the programme with respect to most appropriate of the FIT technologies – photovoltaics (ie PV or solar electric). It should be noted that PV makes up 98% of FIT installations and 90% of total FIT generation capacity installed (see the newsletter for full details).

Previous posts (here and here) have looked at various FIT data sets and highlighted the fact that London has had the lowest capacity of PV installed of any region.

Plotting the installation rates of PV capacity per region per quarter (as provided by data in the Ofgem newsletters) since the FIT programme started (April 2010) provides a comparison of not only how low London’s capacity is compared to other regions of the country (London is the line skirting along the bottom, just below the North-East), but also how the various regions reacted to the sudden and major change in FIT tariffs (a good summary of which is in the following Guardian article).

The majority of regions witnessed a significant’spike’ in the number of PV systems installed as a result of the Government’s announcement that there was to be an near-immediate reduction in the FIT tariff level for PV.  However, in London, though there there was an increase – it was incredibly modest compared to nearly all other parts of the country. Does this reflect:

  • A low level of interest in PV by Londoners?
  • More renters and more flats in London reducing demand for PV?
  • Perhaps only a small number of companies are offering PV in the capital?
  • Less knowledge in the benefits of PV by Londoners?
  • Or are PV companies more attracted to doing business outside London – ie cheaper staff, less hassle factor, easier to put up scaffolding etc etc – more installs mean more money for them?

Whatever the reason, the potential of the most appropriate of the renewable technologies for London is currently being unrealised. The GLA’s 2012 London renewable energy study estimated that PV has the technical potential to supply up to 19% of the capital’s electricity consumption.

NB More recent data – up to December 31 2012 – is available in Ofgem’s latest  FIT register database of 8 January 2013 (link  to the Excel spreadsheet here – it’s a big file at 39MB with around 350,000 separate entries for FIT installations across the UK). The database indicates that of the 31MW of PV capacity in London, the vast majority – around 27 MW – comes from small scale household installations.

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The Energy Bill misses out “opportunity to support community energy co-operatives”

January 2013: Newly elected Labour MP for Croydon North, Steve Reed, made a welcome intervention in the December parliamentary debate on the Energy Bill correctly stating that the Bill “misses an opportunity to support community energy co-operatives”. As an example of what can be achieved by such schemes, Mr Reed gave details of the  Brixton Energy project:

“Brixton solar energy 1 was the country’s first urban energy generation co-operative and was set up by the local community in Brixton, working in co-operation with the local authority, Lambeth council…Brixton solar 1 was built on the roof of a social housing estate, Loughborough Park in Brixton. Brixton solar 2 is being built on another part of the same estate and a third scheme is planned for another estate in the area. The schemes are funded by community subscription and offer a 3% return to investors, most of whom are local. They are part-resourced by the local authority, which makes the buildings available.

Instead of supporting such schemes, the Bill offers smaller community generators lower market prices for their power, making them less financially viable, and it fails to recognise the administration costs needed to run them. The Bill also ends the renewables obligation, which means that suppliers have no incentive to purchase from independent generators such as Brixton solar energy.

Mr Reed should be familiar with the scheme as, until his appointment to Parliament, he was the Leader of Lambeth Council. He goes on to conclude with some really good recommendations:

“The Bill should be amended to increase the fixed feed-in tariff threshold for community projects, guarantee a market for community energy schemes and set a minimum annual target for new generation capacity from community schemes. I should like to see local authorities incentivised to lower overall household carbon emissions in their area, which they could do in part by supporting projects such as Brixton solar energy.”

Further detail on these can be found in some excellent research by Cornwall Energy undertaken for Co-operatives UK and published a few months ago.

It should be noted that Scotland has had a target since 2011 of 500 MW community and locally-owned renewable energy by 2020 (see here for details).

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