London councils commence innovative solar battery project and LED retrofit

Councils across London are kick-starting the capital's 'smart city' transformation, with a new LED retrofit backed by the Green Investment Bank (GIB) and an innovative solar battery project set to commence.

Camden Council is teaming up with Islington Council and Waltham Forest Council to pilot a new solar project aimed at eradicating fuel poverty across the areas. The partnership will install solar panels, ranging from 1.62kWp to 3.78kWp, at 41 low income households across the boroughs to test the viability of storing renewable energy.

Project 24/7 Solar, part-funded by national fuel poverty charity National Energy Action, will store solar energy generated from the panels in three different batteries – Maslow the smart battery made by Moixa , and products from Growatt and Sonnen in order to compare the lifetime performance of the batteries and the project.

The project will collect comparative data to assess the performance of each battery brand as well as what extent households will adapt behaviours to utilise stored electricity during peak demand between 4pm and 8pm. Overall, the project will provide evidence on whether solar panels can supplement evening energy use and whether the technology can effectively reduce energy bills.

“Solar plus storage is of huge interest to Camden Council. Fuel poverty is a very serious issue, blighting people of all ages and circumstances nationwide and storing solar energy can be one of the methods to offer our tenants significant savings to help reduce this burden,” Camden Council’s cabinet member for sustainability Meric Apak said.

Barking up the right streetlight

The news arrives as Barking and Dagenham London Borough Council agreed a £6.8m Green Loan from the GIB to install 14,790 low-energy LED streetlights in the borough.

The loan will cover the refurbishment and retrofit of around 3,300 streetlight columns, with the council also agreeing to the installation of a new central management system for the lighting.

According to the council, the project will reduce annual streetlight electricity consumption by 50%, creating 3.5GWh in energy savings. Annual savings will equate to £400,000 at current energy prices and will also reduce emissions by 1,500 tonnes for each year of the project’s lifetime.

Installation is due to commence in the coming weeks and will be staggered during a two-year period by VolkerHighways.

The council is the first London borough to secure a GIB Green Loan, although Glasgow City Council, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, Stirling Council and Kent County Council have all secured loans in the past.

Between 2012 and 2015, GIB committed £2.3bn to 58 green infrastructure projects with a total value of £10.1bn, making it the most active investor in the UK’s renewable energy and energy efficiency industries at the time.

London calling

London was selected alongside the cities of Nottingham, Bristol and Milton Keynes as winners of a £40m fund from the Government to support the uptake of electric vehicles (EVs) across the UK.

The capital is also uniting with cities across Europe as part of a €25m project which will explore how innovative technologies, including heating homes through the River Thames, can improve the standard of living for city residents.

Matt Mace

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