Next London Mayor urged to ignite solar energy revolution

A London-exclusive feed-in tariff (FiT) subsidy scheme and a new solar taskforce are among the new approaches to renewable energy generation that should be taken by the next Mayor of London, a new report from Greenpeace has claimed.

Greenpeace has urged all mayoral candidates to increase London’s solar output tenfold – reaching 750MW of installed solar capacity by 2025 – in an attempt to increase the current rate of just 0.5% of the 3.4 million homes in the capital that currently have solar photovoltaics installed on their roofs.

Greenpeace UK energy campaigner Barbara Stoll said: “London is a world leader in innovation, yet it’s missing out on the energy revolution of the century.

“From rooftop space to business know-how and grassroots enthusiasm, the capital has the complete toolkit to unleash a solar revolution that can generate jobs, investments, clean and ever cheaper energy for tens of thousands of Londoners.

“What’s long been missing is the political will to make it happen. London badly needs solar champions, and we want the next mayor to be one.

“Thanks to the mayor’s powers London has a chance to decide which energy future it wants – one dependent on fossil fuels and nuclear power which may never be delivered or one built on the safe, clean, affordable renewable energy that many of the major cities are already embracing.”

The Greenpeace report warns the mayoral candidates that, with the capital’s electricity demand only set to double by 2050 based on the current trajector, the nation could be missing out on crucial job and investment growth as it deals with a future power crunch.

The report states that London can increase its solar capacity tenfold by introducing a city-exclusive FiT scheme that combats the effects of the Government’s recent subsidy cuts – measures that have already resulted in thousands of jobs losses.

A London Solar Task Force should also be introduced to oversee the use of unused spaces owned by Transport for London and City Hall – both of which should be fitted with photovoltaics. And green bonds and support for community projects will also aid the growth, Greenpeace says.

Green horizons

The Labour and Conservative London Mayoral candidates have outlined their commitments to greening the capital, but both stopped short of setting tangible targets.

Labour’s London Mayor candidate Sadiq Khan recently outlined his ambition to ignite a ‘clean energy revolution’, pledging to be the ‘greenest mayor ever’ – including a pledge to run London on 100% green energy by 2050.

Meanwhile, Tory candidate Zac Goldsmith has sculpted his candidacy around his green ambitions – most notably with his opposition of Heathrow’s third runway, for environmental reasons.

The next London Mayor will be building on the legacy left behind by current Mayor Boris Johnson, who has been critical of Government green policy in the past – including feed-in tariff cuts. Johnson has also taken steps to bring the world’s first Ultra-Low Emissions Zone to London – a much-needed initiative, considering the capital took just one week to breach its annual pollution limit for 2016.

Matt Mace

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