Climate groups unveil solar wishlist for next London mayor

  • City Hall

    The race for City Hall has already seen solar incorporated into several election campaigns. Image: Bill Smith Flickr

Calls for solar deployment in London to be increased tenfold under the next mayor of London have been reiterated in a new report published today.

The Greener London report has been put together by a coalition of environmental groups to mark the start of Greener London Week and repeats recent claims by Greenpeace that the winner of the election on 5 May could spark a solar revolution in the capital.

Today’s report calls on the next mayor to lay the groundwork for a solar revolution in London and launch a minimum strategy for a tenfold increase in solar capacity by 2025, rolling out solar across an area equivalent to around 200,000 London rooftops.

It suggests a range of measures including the use of crowd sourcing schemes to enable Londoners to buy a share in solar projects; greater support for community energy projects; the creation of a London funding mechanism for solar; and the identification of suitable sites for solar across the Greater London Authority’s (GLA) estate.

Solar deployment has historically struggled in London, with factors like the high proportion of rental properties and shading caused by the city’s skyline affecting take-up. According to Greenpeace, only 0.5% of London’s 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.

Take-up has been further hampered by the recent changes to the feed-in tariff, with current mayor Boris Johnson today revealing that solar projects worth an estimated £2.7 million were cancelled as a result of reductions in support.

John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, said: "London holds two unenviable records. It has some of the highest air pollution levels and the lowest amount of solar power installed per household in the country. Any serious vision for a cleaner London must include a plan to swap these two records around.

“From transport to energy, our dependence on dirty fossil fuels is holding London back. The capital has all the resources it needs to break free from it. It's time for the next mayor to give this cutting edge city the cutting edge power and transport systems it deserves.”

Solar has already taken a leading role in the mayoral election, with the front-runners all incorporating the technology into their energy policies for the city. Labour’s candidate Sadiq Khan has pledged to expand the use of solar across London, as well as create an ‘Energy for Londoners’ initiative which would increase solar deployment and support community projects.

Conservative Zac Goldsmith has pledged to use the Green London Fund to finance a ‘Solar for Schools’ programme and investigate incorporating solar in new building developments. Both have also said they would seek to increase Transport for London’s (TfL) use of renewable energy, while Green Party candidate Sian Berry would establish a London Energy Company to install solar and other renewables across TfL's estate in London. One of her goals would be for Crossrail – now known as the Elizabeth line – to be 100% powered by renewables.

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