Activists in London’s energy co-operatives have unveiled plans to spark up citizen-owned clean electricity generation on 1,000 buildings in the capital this decade, upping current rates of deployment six times over.

Community Energy London, which already counts 30 active citizen groups, last week met MPs and councillors at the House of Commons to launch its vision.

Solar and heat pumps this decade on that thousand buildings are just the start, says CEL.

City Hall researchers helping the umbrella group have picked out nearly 21,000 community-controlled roofs across the capital.  Half are suitable for solar PV, potential offering 1.3 GW of generating capacity.  Heat pumps & other sources could adorn the rest.

Campaigners claim that level of deployment could keep around 350,000 of London’s homes lit and heated.

Every one of the 21,000 sites will need to be turned into hubs for small-scale generation, say CEL, if London’s Mayor is to meet his Net Zero by 2030 goal.   Even the lesser target implies turning 30 roofs in every borough into a mini-power station.

Along with volunteers elsewhere in across Britain, most of CEL’s neighbourhood-based groups periodically raise sums from £20,000 to £500,000 from friends, neighbours & parents to put clean generation equipment on schools, libraries or health clinics.  A majority direct cash too into volunteer-delivered services, advising Londoners on mastering their rocketing fuel bills.

Deepening technical co-operation with City Hall has seen umbrella body CEL pick from the out of the city’s datasets roofs with most renewables potential, or structures linking into district heat networks.

A unique resource now being perfected, CE London’s Potential Map has offered up the 21,000 long-list, tying together location datasets like London’s Solar Opportunity Map, the London Building Stock Model and the capital’s Heat Map.

The Potential Map is the treasure chest for CEL’s ‘Vision for Community Energy in London’.

Adding to dividend-earning investments made by small investors, a growing minority of far-sighted boroughs are also stumping up cash. Haringey, Southwark, Brent and Hackney head the list.

Out-topping all as a financial mainstay is the London Community Energy Fund, controlled from City Hall.

Now just finishing its sixth round of grants, the LCEF has targeted poorer pockets of the capital, breathing life into 129 projects across all but six boroughs.  A total of 2.8 MW of PV panels, nearly two football fields-worth, have resulted since 2017.

From Mayor Khan’s viewpoint, the co-ops’ activism is a trailblazer towards the total £75 billion of private & public investment which City Hall officials reckon he’ll need to meet the 2030 deadline.

Six key actions are needed to keep CE London on track towards those 1,000 roofs, its leaders believe:

  • Continued support from the London Community Energy Fund
  • Working closer with boroughs
  • Spreading recognition of community energy’s benefits in cohesion & neighbourhood building
  • Unlocking the potential of Londoners to invest in community energy
  • A new national strategy for Community Energy

Read CEL’s Vision document here. To attend CE London’s next online meeting this Thursday 23 March, contact co-ordinator Katherine Linsley.


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