St Anne’s Church Planning Application

Our planning application for St Anne’s Church is now live and can be found here, application number 2016/1791/P . We would appreciate it if supporters of the project could comment on the consultation as we want to be sure that there is strong community support before taking a final decision to go ahead with the project.

After being awarded a grant from the Urban Community Energy Fund to cover feasibility costs for one or more solar projects in North London we began speaking to St. Anne’s Church in Highgate who were considering solar panels as part of a refurbishment project taking place at the Church. With the refurbishment the Church hopes to create more space for community activities including the Church’s successful community lunches and a youth project, meaning more daytime use when solar energy can be utilised. Given the potential benefits of solar to the Church and surrounding community we agreed in early 2016 to use some of our funding to explore the feasibility of a 19kW installation on the south facing roof.

Additional aims of the project are to:
• address the challenge of climate change and contribute to locally generated renewable energy for the benefit of the community
• raise awareness of environmental issues within the community
• contribute to long term aims of reducing the need for imported fossil fuel supply, increased local energy resilience, and community cohesion
The installation will provide discounted electricity prices for St Anne’s, which will benefit the funding for activities such as the weekly community lunches, and provide an estimated 16,500 kWh of clean energy per year, equating to 8,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions. This will contribute towards Camden Council’s 40% target for reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 2020.

As the Church is listed and in a conservation area, a large part of this feasibility work has been putting together a planning application, which we submitted on 18th March 2016. The visual impact of the panels will be low as the south facing roof is obscured by foliage and buildings from most view points (see below pictures). The roof is most visible from St. Anne’s Close and we will be consulting individually with residents there.

To comment on the planning application, please follow the below steps:

  1. Click the link above or here
  2. Click ‘Add comments here’ in the Application Progress Summary box
  3. Follow the instructions on the next page and ‘Submit’

More information on the project can be found here.

Many thanks for your support!

 

… 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!

PUNL awarded £20k funding by Urban Community Energy Fund

The Power Up North London team is delighted to announce that we have been awarded a grant of £19,982 from the Urban Community Energy Fund to deliver two community energy projects in 2016.

The Urban Community Energy Fund is set up to fund feasibility costs for community energy projects in urban environments. It is funded through the Department for Energy & Climate Change (DECC) and is managed by the Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) and Pure Leapfrog.

Power Up North London is a joint project between Transition Dartmouth Park, Transition Tufnell Park and Transition Kentish Town. The Transition Towns movement in the UK aims to make communities stronger, greener and more self-reliant. Following in the steps of community groups in Brixton and Hackney, we will generate locally owned renewable energy and use the profits to benefit our community.

Our plan is to deliver one small and one large solar project in 2016 in North London and more details on these projects will be published as they develop.

PUNL will use the £19,982 provided by UCEF to kickstart these projects. We will partner with a local solar installer to perform detailed feasibility studies to find out the solar capacity of potential roofs. We will also begin the planning permission process and partner with legal experts to set up our precedent and project-specific legal documents. In addition to that we will be refreshing our website and undertaking further community consultation to get a broader view of what our community needs when it comes to social, financial and environmental impact. Get in touch now if you have any views on this that you want to share with us! All of this support will help us tighten up our financial models and create a credible business plan. This grant money will enable us to reach a position where we can launch our share offer where we will ask you, our community, to invest in the capital costs of our projects, becoming investors in your community and owners of clean, local power generation.

Power Up North London now has a working group of around 20 people working on our first projects. There is a huge amount of exciting work for us to do over the next few months, so if you are passionate about climate change and community enterprise, we would love you to get in touch, come along to meetings, and help us to bring real positive change to North London.

Get in touch on powerupnorthlondon@gmail.com

Community Energy London Event – reasons to be optimistic?

Last week a few of us attended the inaugural Community Energy London ‘Question Time’ event at City Hall.

In light of recent events in the sector, everyone was under strict instructions to keep comments as positive and optimistic as possible. The reality was that most of the speakers and commentators struck a more pragmatic and realistic tone about the situation all of our groups are in.

Either way, it was great to be able to celebrate some of the brilliant work some of our fellow groups have achieved and also the sheer diversity and creativity of projects. Whether that’s SELCE with their oversubscribed share offer that’s just closed, or LEAP Micro AD with their fascinating  solar/thermal/wind/anaerobic digestion projects. And it’s always re-assuring to hear about the work that our enablers & advocates at Pure Leapfrog and Community Energy England have been up to.

So what were PUNL’s key take-aways?

  1. The future of the community energy sector is bright to regardless of future policy developments. There were around 20 groups represented from across the city and another 10+ that couldn’t make it. Never mind the rest of the country and the rest of the world! Sometimes when the clock ticks past midnight on a Tuesday night and you’re still working on that financial model/funding application/promotional leaflet [delete as appropriate] it can all feel a bit overwhelming; Is this really all worth it? Can we really achieve anything meaningful? But once the group comes together at the monthly meeting and you hear about all the other hours everyone has been putting in to keep all of the other cogs turning, it gives you a huge sense of optimism and resilience of what can be achieved as a team. An event like the one last week multiplies that feeling by thirty-something. The combined amount of dedication and enthusiasm in the room was a real source of inspiration!
  2. Off the back of this event, we think the creation of a more formal London Community Energy Network could be a brilliant thing. We’re all going through so many of the same things and again it was re-assuring to hear about the similar [insert acronym here] challenges other groups had overcome. But imagine if we each could speak to one another about these hurdles before we reach them. It would enable projects at all stages and the sector as whole to grow much more quickly and efficiently. In addition to that, we discussed the ‘peak and trough’ nature of community energy groups, being predominantly volunteer-run. In future, it could be hugely beneficial to be able to mobilise the network to be able to support those groups most in need. Perhaps one group is on pause as a lease is developed whilst another is all hands on deck trying to raise funds for a share offer. We’re all fighting for the same ultimate goal and I’m sure are willing to help one another out in practical ways. Finally, a unified network could give us a much stronger voice when we have things to say. Rather than all blogging and tweeting about the same thing in slightly nuanced ways, a singular message backed by 30+ organisations should see us heard louder and wider.
  3. There are ample opportunities to innovate. Encouraging a reduction in energy use by reducing electricity costs to roof owners as their consumption falls was one such opportunity that came up. More conversations will enable more of these ideas to be generated and shared.

So maybe there are reasons to be optimistic!

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Ben

What’s so spooky about solar?

Did you see any solar panels out and about this weekend? If you attended a Halloween party with any members of the current government then you probably did. The latest policy developments in the community energy sector give the impression that the government are more afraid of solar power than zombies, clowns or vampires. So it’s hardly surprising so many of them dressed up as a solar panel this weekend.

It’s been an ‘interesting‘ few weeks in the community energy sector. It all kicked off with the devastating plans to more or less scrap the feed-in-tariff (one of the main income sources for community energy) at the start of next year, that have already led to thousands of job losses across the country. This came alongside the removal of the ability to pre-accredit community energy projects, which essentially meant that any projects that were hoping to operate under the tried and tested financial model (which has been delivering so much social, financial and environmental value of the last few years), needed to rush to get them registered by the end of last month. That was followed this week by the unexpected decision by the Treasury to remove the successful social investment tax relief scheme that was previously available to investors in community energy (which saw investors able to recoup 30% of any investment). There’s plenty of information all over the web now (and it’s great that national newspapers, etc. are now picking up on this) covering exactly what’s going on so I won’t go into any more detail on that here.

The real surprise here comes as the sector is doing so well. As mentioned above, community energy is a real rare blend as a sector, being able to so effectively create financial, social and environmental value in lockstep (that is – if one benefit goes up, the other two do so too). To demonstrate this, Community Energy England and Power To Change undertook some brilliant research into community energy where a bunch of community energy organisations (us included) fed back some facts on what we’ve done and what we plan to do, for them to be able to map out the current impact of community energy and the (huge) future potential. Two infographics (below) were produced and a further report.

ptc2 ptc 1

A nod as well to the lovely folk at 10:10 who also ran a wonderfully fun and creative campaign to #keepfits a week ago. We joined them for one of the days at Hampstead Heath to talk to people there about community energy and encourage them to let the government know why they should have a rethink.

So we’re realistic – these past few weeks have made things tougher for PUNL and we really wish the government would reconsider their approach. We’ve put in so much time and effort over the past 18 months to develop projects that we think will create real, sustainable environmental, social and financial value for our community. We’ve learnt so much and we think we’ve already done some good stuff, but there’s potential to do so much more. Either way, we’re resilient and optimistic. We’re all hugely passionate about helping to combat climate change and creating a more happy and green society through PUNL. Whatever challenges are thrown at us, we will continue to strive for that. (We hope to have some more updates on our own plans in the coming weeks so keep your eyes peeled for that.)

There are wider reasons to be optimistic – whether it’s Tanzania’s plans to light up a million homes with solar, Morocco’s exciting desert-based plans to become a solar superpower, or a floating solar farm in Manchester, innovative green projects are sprouting up all over the world with increasing regularity.

But finally – what can you do? Sign up to receive updates from 10:10 on their keepfits initiative – there’s plenty more you can do to let the government know the value of community energy. Email your MP, for example. But the best thing you could do is to come join us at PUNL – we’d love to hear your ideas for projects, events, or anything! Just drop us an email – I promise we won’t scare you.

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Ben Pearce