London mayor could increase solar in the capital tenfold says Greenpeace

  • London

    At last count, London had 54MW of installed solar capacity. Greenpeace says this could rise to 750MW by 2025 under the right mayor. Image: Danial Chapman Flickr

Greenpeace has claimed the next London mayor could increase solar deployment in the capital tenfold through a series of measures designed to make solar panels more attractive for Londoners.

In a report released today, the environmental group says mayoral support is integral to addressing the woeful state of solar in London. Only 0.5% of its 3.4 million homes were fitted with panels by the end of 2015, with the most recent data from 2014 showing the technology was only meeting 0.13% of the city’s electricity consumption needs.

Greenpeace recommends that potential mayoral candidates should set a target of 750MW of installed solar capacity by 2025, which would see panels rolled out on 187,500 rooftops over the next ten years.

While issues such as London’s cityscape of thin buildings, terraced housing with little roof space and the high proportion of renters over owner-occupiers, the report concedes that there are some challenges to accomplishing this.

It therefore suggests that a London Solar Taskforce be established to develop a London Solar Action Plan no later than December 2016. This would identify areas the city can improve on to help boost the take-up of solar, including better funding opportunities and increased support for installers.

It also suggests installing solar panels in unused spaces owned by Transport for London (TfL) and City Hall, as well as loaning out roof space to community energy projects. The report also calls for the idea of a London feed-in tariff to be reconsidered after outgoing mayor Boris Johnson seemed to rule it out during a London Assembly meeting last month.

Barbara Stoll, energy campaigner for Greenpeace UK, said: “London is a world leader in innovation, yet it’s missing out on the energy revolution of the century. From rooftop space to business know-how and grassroots enthusiasm, the capital has the complete toolkit to unleash a solar revolution that can generate jobs, investments, clean and ever cheaper energy for tens of thousands of Londoners. What’s long been missing is the political will to make it happen. London badly needs solar champions, and we want the next mayor to be one.

“Thanks to the mayor’s powers London has a chance to decide which energy future it wants - one dependent on fossil fuels and nuclear power which may never be delivered or one built on the safe, clean, affordable renewable energy that many of the major cities are already embracing.”

Solar has been brought to the forefront of the London mayoral race, with leading candidates Sadiq Khan and Zac Goldsmith both pledging to incorporate solar into their energy policies. The Labour and Conservative candidates have targeted TfL as a potential haven for solar over the next term, while Green Party hopeful Sian Berry also unveiled a plan to set up a subsidiary company within TfL to deploy solar across its estate.

Leonie Greene, head of external affairs at the Solar Trade Association, said: “It is good news that the mayoral candidates recognise the failure to deliver on solar to date, and they have set out some impressive solar policies. But Greenpeace is right that the new Mayor will need not only every power at their disposal, but a great deal of creativity and innovation to help overcome the roll-back in support from central government.”

The 2016 London mayoral election will be held on 5 May 2016.

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