… And they’re off! What are London’s Mayoral candidates promising on renewable energy?

Renewable energy has had a rough ride since May 2015 – so with Greenpeace recently reporting that London could generate 20% of its own energy from solar alone, we thought we’d take a look at what the leading four Mayoral candidates are promising to help us get there.

 Sadiq Khan, Labour

Part of Sadiq’s manifesto promise will be to make London a “low carbon beacon”. To do this, he will

  • Set a target for London to become a zero-carbon city by 2050 – this means running on 100% carbon free sources. Labour councils in 50 other cities have also made a 100% pledge.
  • Establish a not-for-profit company to provide “a comprehensive range of energy services to help Londoners generate more low-carbon energy and increase their energy efficiency, support local and community energy enterprises and buy clean energy generated across the city, using it to power GLA and TfL facilities.” This includes providing “advice and support to those wanting to set up community energy projects, and acting as a dating service for those wanting to be part of a community energy projects with commercial premises with space for solar panels.”
  • Purchase energy generated across London and use it to power public buildings and transport
  • Ban fracking in London
  • Produce a solar energy strategy for publically owned and TfL owned buildings
  • Ensure low carbon, energy efficiency and sustainability standards for new developments and increase renewable energy generation on social housing

 

Zac Goldsmith, Conservative

 

Zac Goldsmith has produced a fully costed “Living Environment Manifesto” for London which covers transport, housing, air pollution, and policing. On renewable energy, Zac promises to:

  • Source 25% of London’s energy from “low carbon sources” by 2025, with the aim of reaching 100% by 2050
  • Generate 10% of London’s energy from solar by 2025
  • Work with developers to include solar generation in new build flats and houses
  • Ensure that “large developments on publicly-owned land will come with solar panels by default.”
  • “Give community energy co-operatives the right to generate solar power from under-used public space, such as the roofs of bus stops and sports halls.”
  • “Help community energy co-ops set up their own green energy projects, with a new programme of ‘Solar Powered Estates’.”
  • Match community energy projects with investor finance
  • Set up a new clean energy company which will buy energy from low carbon generators across London and sell it to businesses and housing estates
  • Explore potential for building ultra-efficient homes capable of producing 75-100% of their energy

 

Caroline Pidgeon, Liberal Democrats

In a noticeable departure from the other candidates’ manifestos, Caroline Pidgeon hasn’t officially announced any policies on renewables so far. Her campaign is focused heavily on housing and transport – an area in which she has made an impact as chair of the GLA Transport committee.

However, in The Green Alliance hustings earlier this month Pidgeon mentioned some previously unannounced policies of possibly introducing a London Feed-in Tariff, establishing a “solar task force” to audit the GLA’s property estate, and challenging large private organisations to adopt solar, especially on industrial estates.

 

Sian Berry, Green Party

Sian Berry has put forward the highest target for renewable energy generation of the candidates, pledging to set up a renewable energy company that will operate as a subsidiary of Transport for London which she says will deliver at least 30% of London’s energy needs from zero or low-carbon sources by 2030. The clean electricity generated will be used to power Crossrail.

According to Sian’s website the company would “start by putting solar panels up across TfL’s own 5,700-acre estate of stations, depots, offices, other commercial units and brownfield sites. It will go on to put them on large commercial roof spaces across the capital and on solar farms on London’s fringe, and it will work with community groups, the public sector and businesses to generate low-cost renewable energy from a variety of sources across the capital.”

 

Verdict

It’s great to see that Khan, Goldsmith and Berry have chosen to put renewable energy high on the agenda as they look towards City Hall. Being able to buy energy from local renewable sources to power public buildings or sell on to business is a model that could and should be replicated across major UK cities, as it is clear that at a national level the Government does not plan to include solar in its plans to fill the energy supply gap into the 2020s and beyond.

We will be keeping up to date with further announcements over next six weeks, but so far a big thumbs up to all candidates for taking solar in London seriously!

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