Select Committee on Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Written Evidence

Memorandum 23

Submission from the London Climate Change Agency and the London Development Agency


  1.1  This paper is a combined submission of evidence from both the London Climate Change Agency and the London Development Agency. London is taking the lead in tackling climate change and this submission sets out the background to this work and the practical action that London is now undertaking, including renewable energy and hydrogen technologies, from which other cities and local authorities can learn from as well as the identification of barriers that government must address if the UK is to meet and go beyond its climate change and renewable energy targets.


  2.1  The Mayor committed to establishing the London Climate Change Agency (LCCA)[22] in his 2004 election manifesto to implement projects in the sectors that impact on climate change, especially in the energy, transport, waste and water sectors. The LCCA is playing a key role in helping to deliver the Mayor's Energy Strategy and Climate Change Action Plan. The LCCA is a municipal company owned by the London Development Agency (LDA) and led by the Mayor as chairman.


  3.1  One of the LCCA's key projects was the establishment of the London ESCO,[23] a public/private joint venture energy services company between the LCCA Ltd (19% shareholding) and EDF Energy plc (81% shareholding) to design, finance, build and operate decentralised energy systems, including renewable energy and fuel cell CHP systems. The author is the LCCA's director on the London ESCO Board.

  3.2  The first tranche of immediate projects will double London's CHP capacity and implement both large and small scale renewable energy projects at an investment value of some £100 million and deliver a reduction in CO2 emissions of approximately 310,000 tonnes pa.


  4.1  The London Plan[24] is used as a positive planning policy tool to stimulate the take up of renewable energy technologies by requiring developers to provide 10% of the development's energy requirements from on site renewable energy. The Further Alterations to the London Plan[25] will go one step further by specifically requiring developments to have energy supplied by combined cooling, heat and power (CCHP) or trigeneration wherever feasible and to reduce their CO2 emissions by a further 20% through the production of on site renewable energy. This key change in moving from an energy led approach to a carbon led approach was necessary since not all renewable energy technologies reduce CO2 emissions by the same amount and some may even increase CO2 emissions in certain situations.

  4.2  However, having a groundbreaking London Plan does not necessarily guarantee increases in renewable energy and other low and zero carbon technologies unless it can be shown that there is a low carbon energy industry in London. Prior to the 2004 Mayoral election this was an area of market failure, hence the need for the establishment of the LCCA and the London ESCO which in itself has begun to catalyse the market and attract new ESCO players into London.


  5.1  The Mayor's Climate Change Action Plan[26] was published in February 2007 which set a target to reduce London's CO2 emissions by 60% below 1990 levels, not by 2050 but by 2025, if CO2 emissions are to be stabilised at 450ppm and catastrophic climate change avoided. However, 50% of this target depends on government taking action through such measures as removing the regulatory barriers to decentralised energy and carbon pricing.

  5.2  London's electricity and gas consumption is responsible for 75% of London's CO2 emissions. This is normally not separately identified but smeared across end use energy consumption but it is important to realise where CO2 emissions are actually coming from since it is no fault of the energy consumer that centralised energy is so inefficient, otherwise the wrong policy actions and effort will be set in place and the primary cause of climate change not addressed.

  5.3  The Mayor's goal is to enable 25% of London's energy supply to be moved off reliance on the national grid and on to local decentralised energy systems by 2025 with more than 50% of London's energy being supplied in this way by 2050. Of the 2025 target 15% of energy will come from biomass and waste and 38% of energy will come from local heat and power networks and microgeneration some of which will also be renewable energy.


  6.1  The LDA is a regional development agency (RDA) whose functions have been delegated to the Mayor. The LDA is leading from the front in helping to deliver the Mayor's Climate Change Action Plan in low and zero carbon developments and by requiring decentralised energy to be incorporated in its own developments in advance of and as part of the procurement of delivery partners to develop its developments. With the assistance of the LCCA the LDA has established a Decentralised Energy Team to help deliver this strategy which sets an important example of `show by doing' to the development community in London and to other RDA's.

  6.2  However, the delegated powers, obligations and budgets should be reviewed for RDA's to enable them to support (and achieve) government targets for renewable energy and CHP.



  7.1  Combined heat and power (CHP or cogeneration) and combined cooling, heat and power (CCHP or trigeneration) are important technologies for renewable energy both now, by providing an economic infrastructure for renewable energy technologies to interconnect to, and in the future, where such energy infrastructure can be re-energised with renewable gases/fuels or renewable hydrogen. For example, a CCHP system installed today fuelled by a low carbon fuel such as natural gas can be re-energised with a renewable fuel in the future when the primary energy plant requires replacement since the CCHP system infrastructure will last typically three to four times longer than the primary energy plant.

  7.2  A further sophistication of this approach is to provide dual fuel primary energy plant so that the plant can take advantage of natural gas today but switched over in say five years time to a renewable gas when a renewable gas infrastructure has been developed for the purpose. This is the approach that is being taken on some London projects. In either event, such an approach will provide future proofing for renewable gases and fuels and enable a rapid upscaling for both renewable heat and electricity within a relatively short timescale.


  7.3  Photovoltaics (PV) is an important technology for an urban environment like London since one thing that a city has a lot of are roofs and other locations (eg, glass/glass PV for canopies, atria and rooflights and PV/wind energy lighting columns) upon which PV can be installed. PV is also a complimentary technology to CHP, particularly for residential, since the two technologies operating together provide complimentary reverse summer/winter overlapping energy profiles with peak electricity in the summer from PV and peak electricity in the winter from CHP. This is one of the achievements in Woking where PV was made more economic by taking a holistic approach to decentralised energy supplying communities.

  7.4  PV is one of the more expensive renewable energy technologies but it has a very long life, typically 3 times longer than other renewable energy technologies. Therefore, PV has significant lifetime CO2 emissions reduction capability. It is important for London to stimulate and catalyse the PV market because of its huge potential to generate renewable electricity local to where the energy loads exist. For this reason, the LCCA and the GLA Group have implemented a number of photovoltaic projects. The LCCA is also working on potential inward investment projects as manufacturers/suppliers take advantage of the low carbon energy economy in London.

Wind energy

  7.5  Wind energy is another important technology that also, like PV, has a complimentary reverse summer/winter overlapping energy profile with CHP.

  7.6  The potential for non building integrated wind energy is more significant than would be imagined for a city like London. The London Energy Partnership wind energy study identified that the wind energy capacity for the Greater London area was predicted to be 50.34MW, generating 144.5 GWh annually and reducing 147,015 tonnes of CO2 emissions a year, taking account of various constraints in London. However, the potential for wind energy could be more significant than this, particularly if advantage was taken of the River Thames corridor.

  7.7  The UK has 50% of Europe's wind energy resource and yet the UK lags behind other European countries such as Denmark, Germany and Spain who have much less wind energy resource.

  7.8  The potential for building integrated wind energy could also be significant for a city like London. However, this is an emerging technology that will require supporting if it is to achieve its potential. The LCCA demonstration project at Palestra is an example of this technology which is currently undergoing re-engineering by the manufacturer.

Solar water heating

  7.9  Solar water heating has the potential to deliver up to the equivalent of 80% of domestic water heating. However, it is important to understand that "equivalent" is not the same as "actual" since it only takes a few hours to heat a domestic hot water cylinder, particularly in the summer, so even if solar energy is available for many more hours in a day it cannot be fully realised unless there is a continuous hot water demand—difficult for most working households. More solar energy production and consumption could be realised if thermal storage was utilised in conjunction with solar water heating, particularly in the summer.

  7.10  Unless solar water heating displaces a high carbon fuel such as electricity, coal or oil water heating it will not achieve a significant reduction in CO2 emissions against a low carbon fuel such as natural gas. It should also be noted that solar water heating is not a complimentary technology to CHP, particularly for domestic CHP.

Ground source heat pumps

  7.11  Ground source heat pumps are a partial renewable energy technology deriving low carbon, low temperature renewable heat from the ground which is then increased by a heat pump connected to the high carbon national grid. This increase in temperature is determined by the coefficient of performance (COP) of the heat pump. Although manufacturers often quote high COP's (typically a COP of three or four) it is important to understand that these are instantaneous peak values in the most advantageous conditions.

  7.12  The average annual COP of a good heat pump is typically two which will reduce energy consumption by 50% over the year as a whole. However, this does not necessarily mean that this will reduce CO2 emissions. For example, a ground source heat pump with an average annual COP of two connected to the grid will have a CO2 emission factor of 0.422kgCO2/kWh x 50% = 0.211kgCO2/kWh compared with natural gas high efficiency condensing boilers with efficiencies up to 97% and at this efficiency the CO2 emission factor will be 0.194kgCO2/kWh @ 97% efficiency = 0.200kgCO2/kWh, ie, 5.2% less CO2 emissions than a grid connected ground source heat pump.

  7.13  Where CHP or CCHP is the alternative technology these will achieve a far greater reduction in CO2 emissions than ground source heat pumps simply because the CHP or CCHP will be displacing high carbon grid electricity (as well as co-generating heat) rather than consuming high carbon grid electricity. Ground source heat pumps could be connected to and supplied by on site PV or wind energy but this would not be a good overall use of renewable energy which would otherwise displace grid electricity for lighting and appliances.

  7.14  Nonetheless, ground source heat pumps have their place in reducing CO2 emissions, particularly for rural environments, where there is no gas grid and the alternative fuels are grid electricity, coal or oil.

Hydro electricity

  7.15  Large scale hydro electricity is a mature technology in the UK. However, run of river hydro is an under utilised resource in the UK compared to Germany which has over 5,500 small scale hydros.

  7.16  In London, there may also be scope for large scale hydro if a Thames Barrage is required to protect London from rising sea levels brought about by climate change over and above what the Thames Barrier can protect. If a Thames Barrage is required a holistic approach should be taken towards the project and what else it could be used for. The LCCA has carried out some pre feasibility work which shows that a barrage could be designed to also generate hydro electricity. It could also be used as a transport link across the River Thames which taken together could provide a significant financial contribution towards the project and add to London's renewable energy capacity and associated reduction in CO2 emissions, combining both climate change adaptation and mitigation measures.


  7.17  Biomass is non fossilized biodegradable organic material originating from plants, animals and micro-organisms. Energy from biomass or bioenergy and its relationship to climate change is a complex subject and must take account of any negative implication on food production, biodiversity, habitat loss and rainforest destruction.

  7.18  Biomass is claimed by some to be carbon neutral since the carbon released is replaced by the carbon stored in replacement planting. However, this assumes that there will be replanting to replace the carbon released and it ignores the energy consumed to re-grow, harvest and transport the biomass. For example, some biomass projects in the UK import forest biomass from Scandinavia and Canada or even sugar from Brazil or palm oil from the tropics. It also ignores the time taken to store the carbon through replanting so there would be a net increase in CO2 emissions until the biomass had been fully re-grown. For example, a quick growing tree like Poplar would take 50 years to recover the carbon released into the atmosphere through burning the tree which may take only a few hours to release its carbon into the atmosphere.

  7.19  Unless these issues are taken into account and properly assessed and accredited energy from biomass may actually increase CO2 emissions rather than reduce CO2 emissions. For example, some tree wood species have higher carbon contents than coal (eg forest trees) and can take many years to sequester their carbon whilst other biomass can have very low carbon contents and have annual or three yearly replanting (eg, cellulosic biomass or willow coppicing) or are biomass wastes where the waste needs to be dealt with in any event. For example, California, having initially stimulated the corn ethanol market and found little CO2 benefits arising from this form of biomass, introduced the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard in January 2007. The standard is measured on a lifecycle basis in order to include all emissions from fuel consumption and production, including the `upstream' emissions that are major contributors to the global warming impact of fuels.

Renewable gases and synthetic fuels

  7.20  In an urban environment like London renewable gases and synthetic fuels from the organic and residual fractions of industrial, commercial, sewage, municipal and biomass wastes is a far greater renewable energy resource than transported solid biomass. It also significantly reduces, if not virtually eliminates, waste to landfill and incineration, treats waste as a resource, converts a renewable resource into a form of renewable energy that can be stored and pipelined, creates a common energy carrier for both buildings and transport, can create a macro renewable energy infrastructure for zero carbon development and transport, reduce London's traffic congestion through the minimisation of transport movements for both renewable fuels and wastes, increase London's indigenous renewable energy footprint and significantly reduce London's CO2 and toxic pollutant emissions.

  7.21  For example, if all of the London waste that currently goes to landfill (where it emits greenhouse gases such as methane) were utilised, it could generate enough to provide electricity to two million homes, and heat up to 625,000 homes. The LCCA and the LDA are working to develop a renewable gases and liquid fuels market in London through the support, development and funding of demonstration projects. Early work on these projects suggests that they could be more commercially viable than landfill or mass burn incineration and deliver significant reductions in CO2 and toxic pollutant emissions. See also Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies.


  8.1  The Mayor considers that government targets for reducing the carbon intensity of the national grid are insufficient and that a greatly accelerated programme of developing large scale renewable energy must be set in place to deliver this.

  8.2  In particular, the Mayor supports the development of the large scale off-shore wind turbines in the Thames Estuary (London Array, Greater Gabbard, etc). The locational benefits of these projects should be recognised, taking account of the reduced transmission and distribution losses, etc, through supplying London and the surrounding area rather than the UK as a whole.


  9.1  London is in the lead in the deployment and implementation of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies. Transport for London trialled three hydrogen fuel cell buses as part of the CUTE Programme and following the successful performance of these buses a further 70 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are currently being procured to be introduced in London by 2010.  

  9.2  The LCCA has also carried out a feasibility study to implement a fuel cell CHP trigeneration scheme in Palestra. The project is now being considered for implementation in conjunction with Transport for London, the head lessee of Palestra.

  9.3  The LCCA is also working on a potential fuel cell inward investment project and renewable gases and liquid fuel projects. Renewable gases and liquid fuels derived by anaerobic digestion, gasification and/or pyrolysis are hydrogen rich fuels and so can be developed into renewable hydrogen either now or in the future. See also Renewable Gases and Liquid Fuels.


  Regulatory barriers to renewable energy

  10.1  In order to stimulate the rapid economic uptake of decentralised energy (CHP, CCHP, renewable energy and hydrogen fuel cells) the regulatory barriers to decentralised energy must be removed.[27] This will require the further relaxation of the exemption from the requirements for a licence limits, in particular, the 1MW domestic barrier on individual private wire networks and the 5MW (including 2.5MW domestic) aggregate barrier over public wire networks for smaller decentralised energy systems, similar to Woking, and the introduction of a new vertically integrated decentralised energy (stripped down) licence for operation on larger decentralised systems such as in London and other major cities.

Planning barriers to renewable energy

  10.2  There should be a much firmer direction to local planning authorities on the need for renewable energy and possible intervention by regional planning authorities (or the Mayor in London) or government, as appropriate, where it can be shown that renewable energy projects are being unnecessarily delayed or rejected for no good reason which can be set out in new planning guidance.

Allan Jones MBE

Chief Executive Officer, Chief Technologist

July 2007

22   London Climate Change Back

23   London Back

24   London Plan, February 2004-The London Plan-the Mayor's Spatial Development Strategy, February 2004, Back

25   Further Alterations to the London Plan, consultation, September 2006, Draft Further Alterations to the London Plan, Back

26   The Mayor's Climate Change Action Plan-Action Today to Protect Back

27   DTI/Ofgem Review: Distribution Generation Call for Evidence-London Climate Change Agency Submission of Evidence Back

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