Low-carbon Tube: Transport for London to sign renewable power purchase agreement  

TfL's electricity demands top 1.6TWh every year

The tender launch was confirmed by London Mayor Sadiq Khan today (27 June), with the timing chosen to mark the start of London Climate Action Week.

Khan stated that this tender – which will be the first of a string of several – will help TfL to procure enough electricity to meet 10% of its annual 1.6 TWh electricity demand. PPAs see businesses or other organisations (TfL in this case) supporting developers in the creation of new wind or solar generation capacity, in exchange for a guaranteed share of the new infrastructure’s output each year. This means that the purchaser can guarantee that their investment has led to additional generation capacity coming online – a benefit not typically offered by tariffs.

“TfL’s large demand for renewable source electricity will help increase demand for new solar and wind generation in the UK, which will help to create new green jobs and support the economy,” City Hall said in a statement.

Khan first stated his commitment for TfL’s Tube network to be supplied with 100% renewable electricity by 2030 back in the summer of 2020. At that time, he emphasised the importance of using PPAs and self-generation to overcome the potential environmental pitfalls of relying on tariffs. City Hall confirmed today that these commitments remain, as London works to reach net-zero by 2030. Khan had originally been hoping to launch the first tenders by spring 2022, but a slight delay has resulted from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“As one of the largest electricity consumers in the UK, we are absolutely committed to doing what we can to decarbonise London through clean, renewable energy,” said TfL’s chief safety, health and environment officer Lilli Matson. “TfL is already a world leader in many environmental initiatives, and we are pleased to have now started procurement on our first PPA which forms the next major step in our quest to make all our services powered via renewable electricity by 2030.

Broader plans

The announcement comes after City Hall outlined plans for reaching net-zero operations by 2030. On transport, targets for increasing the proportion of journeys made by foot, bike and public transport were increased. It was also confirmed that Khan’s team are planning to expand the Ultra-Low Emission Zone, which penalises those using vehicles which do not meet emissions standards, thus incentivising the shift to electric vehicles (EVs) and different modes of transport. Speaking at the London Climate Action Week launch today, Khan said an expanded ULEZ would be 15 times the size of Paris – up from four times the size of the French capital at present.

Khan used his platform at the event, hosted at Aviva’s London HQ, to advocate for a concerted effort to end “the stranglehold that fossil fuels have on the economy” and ensure all actors “make a determined dash for renewables now – not later”.

edie attended the launch event and quizzed Khan about the actions businesses can take to promote the transition to renewable energy, and how City Hall can help businesses realise the benefits of doing so. Click here to read that interview with Khan.

In related news, City Hall confirmed last week that floats powered with fossil fuels will not be allowed to participate in The Pride in London Parade on Saturday (2 July). Such floats have become less common since the ULEZ was introduced, but Khan agreed to work to implement a formal ban after the issue was raised by Assembly Member Zack Polanski.

Polanski said: “We must make sure companies that are destroying our planet have no place in a social justice movement. Pride is a protest where the focus should be on supporting and celebrating LGBTIQA+ people, not putting money into the pockets of those who are contributing to the climate emergency.”

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