On 23 April 2023, Power Up North London ran a workshop at Freightliners City Farm to educate staff, volunteers and visitors about the financial and climate benefits of solar energy. Freightliners is a free community farm in Islington that welcomes up to 40,000 visitors each year. With a variety of farm animals, gardens, onsite café and regular activities for school groups, Freightliners is a space for members of the community to connect to nature.
PUNL’s workshop covered the fundamentals of how solar systems work: how they convert energy from the sun into electricity; the key terms we use when talking about solar systems; how to monitor the performance of a PV system; and how to calculate carbon savings. PUNL’s staff also used small devices to demonstrate just how powerful solar energy can be: one small solar panel can be used to charge a mobile phone or power 4 LED lights.
At Freightliners City Farm there are 96 solar PV panels, together with an electronic display that shows total electricity generated to date, current generation, and carbon savings – which are equivalent to planting 100 trees each year. Thanks to a system recently installed by solar energy experts Joju Solar, Freightliners’ solar system can also be monitored remotely through a live link. 67% of the electricity produced by the panels is consumed onsite and the other 33% is exported back to the grid. The farm is also looking to install a battery, which would enable them to store surplus solar electricity and power appliances at night.
After a tour of the infrastructure itself, PUNL’s workshop finished with a Solar Quiz that revisited the materials we had covered, with some bonus questions thrown in. Participants were highly engaged, asking questions about how to monitor the performance data, how a battery would improve the system, and whether the farm could install more solar panels.
With Joju Solar conducting ongoing monitoring and upkeep of Freightliner’s solar system, solar energy can continue to provide financial and carbon savings for this much-loved community space.
PUNL is currently working on a renewable heat project with Caxton House.
In July 2021 PUNL commissioned a decarbonisation feasibility study at Caxton House funded by the London Community Energy Fund (LCEF4). Its primary purpose was to examine the technical options for installing renewable heat solutions at this site to reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality. PUNL also commissioned Energy Systems Catapult (ESC) to work with them to develop a financial model for funding the chosen solution.
Caxton House’s energy efficiency was reviewed, and the decision made to replace all their existing windows. PUNL raised most of the capital through an LCEF4 capital grant that was supplemented by additional funding raised by Caxton House. High performance triple glazed windows have now been installed throughout the Centre to reduce draughts and improve ventilation.
The window replacement work has also precipitated other actions to improve energy efficiency in the building including replacing fire exit doors and skylights. The next step is to raise funding to install a building management system that will enable room-level control of heating and a mechanical ventilation and heat recovery system that will improve air flow. Work with ESC on developing the business and financial model is clarifying available options for PUNL to get involved in supplying renewable heat to the Centre either through a Heat Contract or by setting up an Energy Services Company. This work is on-going.
The energy efficiency measures and heat decarbonisation project when fully implemented will cost a further £250-£300K and will save c26t/carbon a year. Caxton House is projected to achieve running cost savings of £1.1k every year.
If c7,000 buildings were similarly decarbonised, then the carbon saving would equate to the estimated 170kT of annual residential gas emissions.
PUNL submitted an application to the Islington Community Energy Fund in Q4 to implement a range of energy efficiency, ventilation and greening measures at Paradise Park Children’s Centre, a local nursery offering day care services.
We heard the news that over 90% (£24.7k) of our funding was approved.
We are applying to LCEF4 for the balance of the funding so we can install LED lights that are urgently required to reduce overheating and energy consumption at PPCC.
Power Up North London has been engaged to assist London Borough of Islington with feasibility work for three school projects funded by the Salix Low Carbon Skills Fund.
The deliverable will be a report containing a program of energy efficiency measures which will enable effective decarbonisation of heat at these sites. The report will contain sufficient detail for LBI to submit an application to the Salix Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme should funding become available in future.
PUNL will work with the community group CREW Energy and with suppliers mstep and Carbon Architecture to deliver the feasibility reports.
Camden Council and Power Up North London are delighted to announce that they have signed a new partnership to bring more renewable energy to the borough.
Power Up North London (PUNL) is a community-run organisation which brings together people who want to do something practical about the climate emergency. It now has installed solar panels on nine different sites across North London, including 3 schools, a GP practice, Kentish Town City Farm and even a golf course. Combined these projects are capable of generating 300 kWp of green electricity.
The PUNL model is designed to deliver a triple win.
The planet benefits from reduced CO2 emissions. PUNL’s existing projects save 72 tonnes of carbon annually, the equivalent of 26 acres of new forest.
There is a financial benefit to the schools and other sites where the solar power is installed, as they benefit from savings on their electricity bills.
Last but not least, these projects provide an opportunity for local people to do something practical with and for their communities to address the climate crisis. PUNL’s work is delivered by volunteers who bring a range of skills – including engineering, marketing, finance and community mobilisation.
So far, over 188 local people have invested over £140,000 through community share offers to cover the costs of installing renewable power. Shareholders’ capital is returned together with a healthy 1.5% interest. Any surplus funds are returned to local environmental projects through our Community Energy Fund.
The new partnership between Camden Council and Power Up North London is an opportunity to further scale this work.
Together we will aim to bring more renewable solar power to the borough and explore the scope for our first collaborative project on renewable heat. The partnership speaks to a key recommendation of the Camden Climate Assembly, which called for more community-owned and managed renewable energy.
We would love to hear from people who live and work in the borough who might be interested in our work as volunteers and investors. We are also looking for new sites where there might be scope to install renewables. Do get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org
Camden’s new Climate Action Plan has been adopted Camden Council’s cabinet.
The Plan commits the Council to tackle the climate emergency and includes a zero carbon by 2030 goal and taking forward all seventeen recommendations put forward by a dedicated citizens’ assembly.
Action on energy figures large. The plan says: “We will also need to increase the amount of energy produced from renewable sources to help the move to lower carbon electricity. While the potential for large scale renewable energy in Camden is limited, there is still significant potential for solar and air source systems for new and existing buildings. We need to ensure that new buildings meet the highest environmental standards, do not add to carbon emissions or air pollution and are built to last.”
Other action on energy includes:
*In 2020, switch the Council’s corporate estate and schools to green electricity, and look at further ways to reduce the emissions associated with our energy supplies through renewable energy.
*In 2020, complete a feasibility study to install a large-scale solar project on housing estates. Subject to feasibility, deliver the project in 2021 and extend thereafter.
*In 2020, deliver a low-cost solar panels programme for residents in Camden through Solar Together and explore other group-purchasing schemes to support building retrofit.
*In 2020-21, create a public database of all renewable energy installations in Camden.
*In 2021, review and extend the Camden Climate Fund to provide financial support for energy efficiency improvement and renewable energy and heat deployment with a focus on the fuel poor and community groups.
A quarter of Camden’s direct emissions come from heat and electricity supplies to housing. Approximately 60% result from non-domestic buildings such as offices, shops, universities and schools.
PUNL responds to Islington’s zero-carbon 2030 Vision
PUNL has responded to Islington Council’s consultation on how it intends to reach zero-carbon by 2030.
PUNL thinks there is a lot in the consultation paper that gives cause to cheer but a lot that is unsaid about how the council’s ambitious target will be achieved in 10 years’ time.
It contends that the ambitious goals in the paper can only be met if the aspirations are converted into a prioritised set of SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely) goals with clear financial commitments for investment and targets for carbon saving.
The consultation paper rightly identifies the need for funding from government and the devolution of powers in order to achieve the goal of a zero-carbon borough by 2030.
PUNL believes that community energy must play a significant role to help ensure the transition to a low carbon economy and a smarter energy system given the complex and fundamental changes that energy users will experience.
The response commends the Council on its establishment of the Islington Community Energy Fund (ICEF), which has supported energy efficiency, carbon reduction and fuel poverty alleviation projects in the borough. It will be good to see ICEF funding for projects that align closely with the top priorities to achieve zero carbon 2030, including the switch from gas boilers to renewable heat systems.
The response explores further how PUNL can be involved in behaviour change along with funding and other initiatives.
Read the full response here (thanks to Tanuja Pandit for co-ordinating responses)
The consultation closes on 31 July and readers are encouraged to respond.
What can we do in our use of energy to promote a low carbon lifestyle? Find out on Wednesday 24 June, 7-8.30pm, at a Think & Do webinar.
How do we make our homes more energy efficient?
Hear from Power Up North London about renewable energy projects in the area – and how you can get involved? Camden Council is talking about energy in relation to meeting the net zero carbon target for 2030; and local architect Anna Woodeson is covering challenges to our industry, the trajectory to zero carbon, what a zero carbon world could look like and retrofitting our homes.
Join this Think & Do webinar to hear more about how anyone in our community can contribute to tackling the climate emergency to help Camden achieve net zero carbon by 2030. There will be plenty of time for questions.
How can we scale-up community energy action in our cities? – is an online event held by Community Energy London on 25 June between 6-8pm.
Some of the questions explored will be: what are some of the best UK or international examples? Do frameworks to create scale exist in the community sector? What are the barriers to scaling up projects in the urban environment and how could we overcome them?
Urban projects face a number of unique difficulties in relation to access to space, the built environment in which they are situated and often higher costs in relation to installation. But the popularity of community energy schemes is growing, helped by climate emergency declarations and net zero carbon commitments.
The installation was completed in February and the amount of electricity generated to date is 4.37Mw. Self-consumption amounted to 2.94Mwh (see left for panels).
The amount of CO2 saved to date is 1160kg and the equivalent of nearly six trees. Thanks to investors and supporters.
Hampstead School – latest results
Subsequent to meeting the investment target, the panels have been installed.
As of the first week of April, the panels had earned £182 and produced 4793kWh. Thanks again to investors and supporters.
Elizabeth House installed
A total of 1048kWh has been produced at Elizabeth House, with 753kWh self-consumed, and 295kWh exported.
PUNL project managed the installation of a 10.26kWp system at Elizabeth House Community Centre, in Islington at the end of November 2019.
Export has been higher than normal in recent weeks due to the lockdown. CO2 emissions saved amounted to 297kg.
Dixon Clark Court – work underway
Currently work is underway to determine how best to supply the solar electricity generated to the communal areas and residents using a microgrid.
Last August PUNL won an Islington Council grant to undertake a feasibility study for a solar PV and private wire (microgrid) system at Dixon Clark Court which is a 15 storey residential block owned by the Council.
The Council provided funding from its Community Energy Fund (ICEF) for the feasibility and also for the capital to procure the panels.
Solar PV can be installed at this site and PUNL must also put the appropriate legal arrangements in place between the Dixon Clark Court TMO and the Council/Residents.
Paradise Park – next stage
A feasibility study has concluded that a solar PV array can be installed and would be beneficial from an environmental, social and financial perspective at Paradise Park Childrens’ Centre.
Last August PUNL also won an ICEF grant to undertake a feasibility study for solar PV, and to look at energy efficiency measures at Paradise Park Childrens’ Centre, partnering with XCO2 who are a local consultancy practice with expertise in this area . XCO2 submitted a detailed report on measures to reduce energy use and improve thermal comfort at PPCC.
The next step is to apply for a follow-on ICEF grant to procure and install the solar panels and to implement some energy efficiency measures.
We were in the process of planning a series of events to get all of our investors together, but in light of the current Covid-19 crisis, this is on hold and we will update you in due course. In the meantime stay safe.
Originally it wanted to hold a series of workshops, but due to the Covid-19 crisis, it is consulting online, and will provide more information when the crisis is lessened.
Islington Council says it is aiming for a fairer place for everyone by reducing inequalities which are made worse by climate change and states that although it has a leading role, it must work closely with residents, businesses and community groups.
GLA pushes for Neighbourhood Planning support for renewables
In a report, the Greater London Assembly has urged the mayor to reintroduce policy and text that explicitly sets out how Neighbourhood Planning can support local priorities and renewable energy schemes and the Mayor’s Good Growth objectives.
Budget and renewables
Although the government allocated £100 million funding to replace fossil fuel heating in homes and small, non-domestic buildings and an extension to the Renewable Heat Incentive post-2021, albeit for 12 months, community energy groups were disappointed there wasn’t a reinstatement of Social Investment Tax Relief.
Also missing – a reverse in the increase from 5-20% for Energy Saving Measures.
Separately, community energy organisations have been given a six month extension to complete and register feed-in tariff projects.