UK: London backs solar with funding for 1 GW PV scheme

Rodrigues’ presentation on Tuesday at the Renewable Energy Association (REA) ESCS conference, held between February 6-7 in London, the U.K. touched on the city’s local government plans for solar energy and energy storage.

Aside from the 1 GW solar power goal by 2030, the deputy mayor said London has already launched a Community Energy Fund to help local groups develop solar systems at schools, sport centers and community halls.

Rodrigues also referred to a new £4.5 million solar PV project by Transport for London (TfL), which is the local government’s organization responsible for running the city’s transport system. The project will see TfL working with utility firm Engie, retrofit solar PV panels in an assortment of TfL buildings, totaling 1.1 MW of cumulative PV.

Furthermore, on what concerns London’s solar PV development, the Energy for Londoners scheme, which was launched by the Mayor last week, will refurbish 10 homes this summer, installing insulation, solar panels, heat pumps and other measures to assess whether the project can feasibly be rolled out more widely across London.

Electricity license
London has secured a junior electricity license, and in January the British capital launched a 12 month-long pilot scheme where the City Hall will buy energy generated locally and use it to power TfL premises. The scheme, which will purchase power from established combined heat and power generators, was initially announced at last year’s conference. This shows how slowly things move, commented Rodrigues.

Of great interest is the Mayor’s plan to tender for the delivery of an energy supply company for London, aiming to offer fairer energy bills to Londoners.

Bold views
But while progress is slow, London’s government is not short of a few bold statements. Rodrigues told the ESCS conference that London should adopt a smart energy approach, enabling electricity consumers to respond and eventually reduce demand for power. To achieve this, Rodrigues added, the city needs more energy storage and flexible electricity tariffs.

We will collaborate with partner companies to offer Londoners a variety of services and products, e.g. solar PV, energy storage and flexible services, argued Rodrigues.

A question remains: how fast London will be able to implement its new scheme and transform its views to concrete actions.

Energy storage
Where battery technology is concerned, Rodrigues did not reveal any specific measure, although she noted that her team is indeed looking at battery storage.

Rodrigues did, however, sound committed to the idea of smart energy heating, stating that heating buildings is the largest source of carbon production in the capital and that London currently wastes enough heat alone to meet its heat demand. The Energy for Londoners scheme includes a £3.5 million Decentralized Energy Enabling Project to help public and private companies “build larger-scale heat networks, including the use of local sources, like waste heat from the Tube.”

These commitments stem from the Paris climate agreement, with Rodrigues concluding: “We believe we can turn them in wealth creation for the city.”