Tag Archives: Westminster

“Sales of electric cars soar 85% amid fear over pollution”

8 April 2016: The Evening Standard reports that “Hundreds more Londoners are buying electric cars as the scale of the capital’s air pollution problem is laid bare, official figures reveal today. They show a jump of more than 22 per cent in electric cars, including hybrids, registered in the city in the first three months of the year, nearly 800, compared with 650 in the first quarter of 2015. In the South-East, the rise was a huge 84.9 per cent, from 1,632 to 3,019.” EV sales data is available on the SMMT’s website – but not on a regional basis.

“The number of electric cars registered in London has jumped from 61 in the whole of 2010 to a total now over 5,000. More charging points are being installed under the Source London scheme.” Read the full story here.

Proposals to make London “the electric vehicle capital of Europe” were set out last summer by the Mayor in TfL’s Ultra Low Emission Vehicle Delivery Plan – which contains details on work to support the growth of EVs and EV charging infrastructure.

London was recently awarded £13 million to create ‘Neighbourhoods of the future’ prioritising ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs) in several boroughs across the capital:

  • Proposals include over a dozen streets in Hackney going electric with charging infrastructure such as car-charging street lighting, while Harrow will develop a low emission zone offering parking and traffic priority to owners of plug-in vehicles
  • Westminster Council already provides free parking for ULEVs and London’s proposal aims to deliver 70,000 ULEVs sold by 2020 and almost quarter of a million by 2025

To help private plug-in vehicle owners offset some of the upfront cost of the purchase and installation of a dedicated domestic recharging unit, the Government is running the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme. New guidance on this scheme was issued by Government last week.

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Major London housing development to be zero carbon from October 2016

April 2016: As highlighted in an earlier post – the GLA have just issued new London Housing Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) and Energy Planning Guidance which sets out the carbon targets for new residential developments in the capital following the government’s announcement last year to scrap its zero carbon homes policy.

Full detail follows below – but a helpful summary is provided in the GLAs new Energy Assessment Planning Guidance (page 12) on the key takeaway –  new carbon targets:

Stage 1 schemes received by the Mayor up until 30 September 2016 – 35% below Part L 2013 for both residential and commercial development.

Stage 1 schemes received by the Mayor on or after the 1st October 2016 Zero carbon (as defined in section 5.3 of this guidance) for residential development and 35% below Part L 2013 for commercial development

Over the past few months, the Mayor has referred to keeping London’s zero carbon homes policy through a number of responses to Mayoral Questions (see references below). This new Housing SPG is however the first official GLA document which confirms the process for how the zero carbon policy is to be implemented. The full text from the SPG on Zero Carbon Homes follows below – with some accompanying  analysis:

Continue reading…

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District heating as heterotopia

27 January 2016: “District heating as heterotopia: Tracing the social contract through domestic energy infrastructure in Pimlico, London” – new research paper published in the latest issue of the journal Economic Anthropology (PDF here). A presentation on the paper can be seen here.

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UK’s most sustainable historic building in London’s West End

22 October 2015: The Guardian reports: “Hailed as the UK’s most sustainable historic building, the Regent Street office scheme, 7 Air Street, comes with an ecological roof incorporating flowers, vegetation, grasses and habitats for insects, birds and bats.  The building has received BREEAM outstanding rating, the highest award possible from the industry body which judges best practice for sustainability in the built environment.

“It features solar panels, low energy air conditioning, LED lighting and a unique central energy centre, powered by fuel cell technology, which saves around 350 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions each year, while providing power to 500,000 sq ft of commercial and residential accommodation on Regent Street, including the Cafe Royal Hotel and the 20 Air Street office building.

A previous post provides some additional details behind the fuel cell technology used.

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Victoria Decentralised Energy Project

November 2014: A major decentralised energy project in Victoria has moved a step further with the appointment of Clarke Energy to deliver a 3MWe Combined Heat and Power (CHP) engine. A  news release from Clarke Energy sets out that the mixed use Nova Victoria project, comprising residential, offices and commercial sites, will be connected to a district heating scheme where:

  • GE’s Jenbacher units will run a combined heat and power (CHP) configuration to generate 2.96 megawatts (MW) for the area enough electricity to power more than 5,700 standard U.K. homes.
  • Once operational in 2016, the CHP configuration will power the on-site Energy Centre, export electricity to the grid and provide heat to Nova residents and businesses as well as reduce carbon emissions.
  • Based on 8,000 operating hours per year, the gas CHP is expected to offset more than 6,500 tons of carbon dioxide.

The Mayor’s planning decision from 2012 provides some additional background to the energy strategy of the development. Energy strategies submitted as part of the planning application for the development can be downloaded here and here.

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Energy People and Society presentations

24 June 2014: A series of interesting papers presented at the first UCL symposium on energy, people and society include a number of case studies focused in London, which include:

  • District Heating in Pimlico: Analysing the social contract created through energy infrastructure available here.
  • Capturing the Social Value of Retrofit at Scale (a case study in Poplar) available here
  • Heritage and Environmental Values in Sustaining Heritage Domestic Buildings: A Residents’ Perspective (case study in Walthamstow) available here
  • Greenroofs and Sustainability: Energy, Performance, Time (case studies across London) available here
  • Urban Energy Landscapes available here
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Decentralised Energy Delivery: the Business Case

April 2014: On Wednesday 2nd April 2014 the Greater London Authority hosted a workshop focussing on the Business Case and Business Planning for Decentralised Energy projects. The event included an introduction from Matthew Pencharz – Senior Advisor, Environment and Energy (GLA), case studies and an open discussion amongst all attendees. The workshop hosted speakers from the London Borough of Enfield, Westminster City Council, Arup and the GLA. Attendees included energy consultants, engineers and local authorities.

Materials presented by the speakers can be downloaded using the following links:
Peter North, Greater London Authority
Robert Tudway Greater London Authority
Bruce Laidlaw, Arup
Jeff Laidler, London Borough of Enfield
Tim Starley-Grainger, Westminster City Council
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London Energy Efficiency Programme Scrutinised

March 2014: The London Assembly Environment Committee held the first of two oral evidence sessions on progress made by the GLA’s energy and climate programmes. The first of these sessions was held on 6 February and focussed on the Mayor’s home energy efficiency programme, RE:NEW. Evidence was provided by representatives from a number of organisations, including EDF Energy, the Energy Saving Trust, Hillingdon Borough Council and the Mayor’s Housing Advisor. The full transcript can be accessed here – and a webcast can also be viewed here. Points of interest raised during the debate included:

  • The RE:NEW programme is awaiting confirmation they they have been successful in their application to the European Investment Bank’s European Local Energy Assistance (ELENA) programme for £2.6m to put in place a support team over a three year period starting from April 2014 (the RE:NEW programme support team is currently operated for the GLA by Capita).
  • RE:NEW is  currently working with Greenwich, Havering, Newham and Westminster, Hyde Housing and Peabody Gallions developing “bigger projects that would be more attractive in terms of bringing in Energy Company Obligation (ECO) funding“.
  • Borough responses suggested that RE:NEW was “not very hands-on with project development.” RE:NEW is keen to find out what boroughs are doing but “there is very little support there for boroughs in terms of developing projects and overcoming planning issues.
  • RE:NEW should be instead be focussing on what the GLA could do to “enhance [borough activities] even further if it wants to deliver ambitious carbon reduction targets
  • Further criticism was targeted at the RE:NEW programme stating that the funding resource was mainly going to Capita : “We see that the resources are actually on those people, basically, for the Capita resource. Local authorities are not really getting the benefit of that on the whole“.
  • An often confusing debate takes place on  how many homes were retrofitted through the RE:NEW programme and how many homes were insulated across London in total. A number of 400,000 homes is quoted by the Mayor’s Housing Advisor during the session. Though not explained, this number is most likely made up of the following: 327,00 treated through the Government’s CERT programme over the period April 2008 – December 2012 (see cell V35 of EST CERT data here), and 70,000 homes visited by the RE:NEW team and provided with ‘easy measures’ over the period July 2011-December 2012 (see MQ here for details). For more on this, see earlier post here.
  • RE:NEW Phase 3 has a target of retrofitting 175,000 homes.

Just ahead of the evidence session – somewhat belatedly – the Mayor published the full evaluation report of the main RE:NEW roll-out phase which ran from July 2011-May 2012 (a summary report had previously been issued – details here).  A second oral evidence session will take place on 26 March, focusing on the Mayor’s decentralised energy programmes, with the Mayor’s energy advisor, Matthew Pencharz, in attendance.

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Fuel Cells in London

November 2013: The Guardian highlighted in a recent story that the London HQ of Al Gore’s business is to be based in a new office development on Regent Street which has included a wide array of onsite energy measures installed including a gas-powered fuel cell.

“Climate campaigner and former US vice-president Gore said the £400m Quadrant 3 redevelopment showed a “sophisticated commitment to sustainability”. The headquarters of his sustainable investment company, Generation Investment Management, will be sited in the new buildings.

“The cell was developed by US company FuelCell Energy. It will emit 38% less carbon dioxide than using electricity from the grid and heat from gas-fired boilers, according to the crown estate, which says 350 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions will be saved per year. Unlike fossil-fuel-burning power plants, the fuel cell produces power with virtually no nitrogen oxide (NOx), sulphur dioxide (SOx) or particulate matter (PM) pollution.
The new plant forms part of the central energy system that serves 500,000 sq ft of offices, shops, flats, restaurants and hotels in the Quadrant development.” Read the full Guardian story here.

Further detail on the installation of the fuel cell can be read here – which has been undertaken by Edinburgh based Logan Energy. The Quadrant 3 development has a number of other onsite energy measures installed (including a Combined Cooling Heat & Power plant, thermal stores and photovoltaics – see diagram below), as set out in the property brochure.

Another new London development to include fuel cell technology is that on 20 Fenchurch Street (more commonly known as the ‘Walkie Talkie’ building) which has installed a 300 kWe fuel cell, details of which can be read here and here.

Transport for London installed a fuel cell CHP in their Palestra building in Southwark back in 2010, details of which – including a video presentation – can be seen here and here.

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London bottom of solar league table

June 2013: Analysis by consultancy WSP in their report – ‘Solar Success: Space Not Cash the Key for Solar’ reflects previous posts by Energy for London (see here and here), highlighting London’s poor progress when compared to other regions in relation to the installation of solar photovoltaic systems.

The conclusions summarise the Feed in Tariff Installation report data, produced by energy regulator Ofgem, highlighting local authority installations per 10,000 households.

The analysis shows that London boroughs make up 23 of the 25 lowest ranking local authorities for solar installations and the entire bottom 10 in the national league table. Westminster, Tower Hamlets, the City of London, Kensington and Chelsea, Hammersmith and Fulham, and Southwark are all found in the bottom five.

The report points out that: “Even The Orkneys at 232/10,000 houses comes 55th out of 760 on installation rates – higher than every local authority in Surrey, Kent and London – areas which receive much more sun than Scotland. To get most bang for buck, incentives should encourage the sunniest areas to get more panels than the furthest north. This, however, isn’t the case – the reality of politics over good green policies.”

Reasons for London’s limited success with PV  put forward include: “While we might think that cities should be happy hunting grounds for solar sales, in reality houses in towns are smaller, their roofs are more likely to be obscured and there’s also less owner occupation.”

Link to report here and directly downloadable here.

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Belgravia Energy Saving Experiment

June 2013:  “A scientific experiment to prove or disprove green-building theories is to be undertaken by Grosvenor, the Duke of Westminster’s property company. Two almost-identical grotty hotels in Belgravia are the test bed.

Two weeks ago, Grosvenor obtained permission to rebuild 119 Ebury Street using the latest energy-saving materials. The Grade II-listed shell will be converted into three rented flats, and the energy use monitored.

Number 125 Ebury Street was converted into two rented flats last November. The five-storey listed block was rebuilt to meet present energy-saving standards. The apartments will be monitored to provide benchmark data.”

“Number 125 meets the current 40% carbon-saving target,” says Starr. “At number 119, we hope to meet the 2050 target of an 80% saving. That should translate into a 40% saving on the energy bills.” Those wishing to double glaze their listed home or flat in Westminster will have to be patient. Work on 119 will not finish until 2015. The two addresses will then be monitored for two years to prove the case — either way.”

Read full Evening Standard story here. Further information on technologies to be employed at 119 Ebury St – which include solar PV, solar thermal, air source heat pump and ‘phase change’ internal wall insulation, can be found on the following planning report by Westminster Council – and a lot more detail can be found on the development’s sustainability planning application reports here.

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A low carbon and more energy efficient West End needs to be prioritised

1 May 2013: The Financial Times today highlights concerns raised by London’s West End businesses on the reliability of electricity supply to the centre of the capital. Philippa Roe, leader of Westminster City Council, comments in the article that : “It is a real issue, not just for Westminster but for London. The problem is not generation, it’s distribution. It seems foolish not to be able to plan for our future energy needs.”

Issues related to climate and energy  are set out in sections on infrastructure and the environment in a report published yesterday by the West End Commission. The report recognises the impact that climate change could have on businesses in the West End and sets out a number of significant changes to how lower carbon energy systems could be put in place to supply heat and power. These include:

  • The transition to a low-carbon economy must also become one of the key objectives of the West End partnership, including coordinating underpinning programmes as they relate to retrofit of buildings, new energy and waste systems [para 23]
  • The new West End partnership should also conduct an analysis to assess the appropriateness for the area of different forms of low carbon energy generation [para 24]
  • Some early priorities are to… plan for a low carbon and more energy efficient West End [page 32]
  • The development of new, high quality, energy efficient, mixed use/office space is a key factor in maintaining the West End’s ongoing economic competitiveness. [page 43]
  • There is a concern amongst developers that the current approach to investment in the network must be improved if the West End is going to have a secure energy supply over the long-term.  In its evidence the Westminster Property Association highlighted that ‘security and resilience of energy supplies area growing concern. This is an issue which goes to the heart of UK energy generation, distribution and regulation. The needs of the West End are quite exceptional, in national terms [page 43]
  • The current regulatory system provides limited incentives for investment ahead of demand,creating uncertainty for developers and often additional cost if new power substations are needed to guarantee energy supply. Through their statutory spatial planning process and setting of a Community Infrastructure Levy, the boroughs have the mechanism to identify and prioritise infrastructure requirements. However, boroughs do not have the power to mandate investment in electricity infrastructure and electricity supply will only be improved if the regulator allows investment ahead of demand.The Commission believes that swift action should now be taken to  implement  a new approach to investment in energy supply ahead of demand that builds on the well-established body of evidence. Such an approach should include looking at greater use of innovative sources of energy supply such as the use of hydrogen fuel cells, block or district combined heat and power networks, anaerobic digestion and waste to energy. [page44]
  • The report concludes that – In view of the pressing demand for a more resilient supply of energy to the West End,the new West End partnership should explore whether better use can be made of local decentralised and low carbon sources of supply such as district combined heat and power schemes, anaerobic digestion, energy from waste and hydrogen fuel cells, and whether more could be done to retrofit existing buildings to improve their energy efficiency and reduce demand. [page 46]

The West End Commission was convened by Westminster City Council in summer 2012 to review, explore and set out recommendations for the continued and future success of the West End of London.

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