Renewable energy league table reveals London’s champions

Wednesday 2 March 2016

Lewisham is way ahead of other London boroughs in generating renewable energy, new figures show. And, overall, south of the river is outdoing the north. But London is the worst city for exploiting its renewable potential, compared to the rest of England and Wales.
In an analysis by think tank Green Alliance that compares north and south of the river’s renewable energy capacity to their electricity consumption, south London trumps the north. Renewable power sources in the south generate the equivalent of 2.9% of the area’s electricity consumption, far more than in the north, where it is 1.7%.[1]
As an urban area with little space for wind turbines, London’s renewable mix is dominated by solar panels and power from biomass and waste. North London is also benefiting from landfill gas sources.[2]

Why is Lewisham doing so well? Lewisham’s renewables are generating the equivalent of 30% of its electricity consumption. Most of this is coming from biomass and waste sources, but supplemented by solar panels, showing that an area’s electricity needs can be met by a diversity of renewable sources. The other boroughs in the top ten are, from second to tenth place: Newham, Havering, Bexley, Hounslow, Sutton, Enfield, Barking and Dagenham, Kingston upon Thames, and Waltham Forest.

This league table is produced as part of Greener London week, in which a coalition of the UK’s leading environmental groups,[4] including the National Trust, WWF, RSPB and Greenpeace, are calling for the next mayor to commit to a greener London during their term. Among the ideas, which cover issues around waste, green space and air pollution, as well as energy, the groups are urging the mayor to ramp up renewables and make the capital a world leading solar city with a tenfold increase in solar capacity – equal to around 200,000 solar rooftops, up from nearly 16,000 today.[5]
Compared with other cities in the UK, London is bottom of the renewable energy league, coming way behind northern cities like Grimsby, Warrington and Doncaster. And comparing the proportion of households with solar roofs in the 20 largest cities in England and Wales, the capital languishes at the bottom, with only 0.48%. Although London’s mix of flats and private rented housing makes it a difficult place for solar panels, there is it still room for considerable improvement.
Renewable energy is by far the most popular energy source with people in the UK according to official government statistics which show 78% of the public support the use of renewables, with only 4% against.[6]
Lord Barker, chair of the London Sustainable Development Commission, said: “The terrific progress in certain London boroughs shows just what is possible when you combine the latest clean energy technology and the will to drive change. London, as Europe's only mega-city, has a vital leadership role to play and the next mayor needs to build on these examples to transform the deployment of decentralised energy right across our city.”
Amy Mount, senior policy adviser at Green Alliance, said: “Currently London is missing a huge opportunity to be a world leading low carbon city by not doing more to exploit renewables. Our capital city could become the world’s biggest urban solar farm. The next mayor doesn’t need to wait for national government to sort its confused energy policy out – we can start delivering on London’s renewable potential right away.”
James Berry, MP for Kingston upon Thames & Surbiton, said: “As a South London MP, I’m obviously delighted that families and businesses this side of the river have outdone our northern neighbours in taking advantage of the renewable energy opportunities available. I've just switched to a green energy supplier and many of my constituents are investing in solar panels for their roofs and heat pumps to warm their homes, and this is a trend to be welcomed, as London rises to the challenge of tackling climate change. Lots of progress has been made over the past few years, providing a strong foundation on which the next mayor must build.”
Agamemnon Otero, founder of Energy Garden, said: “By supporting communities to create self-sufficient Energy Gardens we will bring sound business sense and smart technology to gardening. Energy Gardens will allow all ages, cultures and socio-economic backgrounds to engage in greening our urban corridors, helping craft socially smart cities.”
Amy Mount, senior policy adviser, Green Alliance (available for interview) Mobile: 07813 474986

[1] Green Alliance commissioned Regen SW to retrieve all data. The rankings were produced by analysing publically available datasets such as installation reports of the Feed-in Tariff and Renewables Obligation Certificates, as well as securing Freedom of Information requests for different categories of the Renewable Heat Incentive. This analysis resulted in collection of information on nearly 700,000 individual projects, sorted by local authority and technology across England and Wales. In the city comparison, we grouped local authorities into primary urban areas, as defined by the Centre for Cities, with the exception of London, which is defined for the purposes of consistency as the 33 boroughs that are represented by the mayor of London and the London Assembly. See here for more information on the league tables in England and Wales.
[2] The north’s absolute renewable capacity (121MW) far outstrips that of the south’s (70MW), however. Using the percentage figure is helpful because it allows us to compare larger areas with smaller areas, through relating an area’s renewable electricity generation to its electricity consumption.
[3] The attached infographics visualise the research findings and are available for public use.
[4] Campaign for Better Transport, CBT, Friends of the Earth, Green Alliance, Greenpeace, London Wildlife Trust, National Trust, RSPB, WWF
[5] Greener London can be downloaded here
[6] The latest Government statistics on the popularity of renewables, from February 2016:
[7] Green Alliance is a charity and independent think tank focused on ambitious leadership for the environment. Since 1979, it has been working with a growing network of influential leaders in business, NGOs and politics to stimulate new thinking and dialogue on environmental policy, and increase political action and support for environmental solutions in the UK.
Three examples of renewable energy projects in London:

a) Solar panels for schools, Lewisham and Greenwich
Last year, South East London Community Energy (SELCE) raised £250,000 of investment from the community to install solar panels on four local primary schools in South East London. Ashmead and Horniman primary schools in Lewisham, and Mulgrave Primary and Charlton Park Academy schools in Greenwich have all benefited from the solar installations.
It is estimated that the project will save the schools about £358,000 in electricity bills over a 20 year period, money they can reinvest into education, and around 94 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually.
SELCE are now working on their next ‘community share’ offer with the aim of installing solar panels on a further eight community buildings in the South London area, compromising schools, a community centre and an art gallery. Once up and running, any additional funds from both projects will be reinvested into SELCE's work to reduce fuel poverty in London.
For more information, see
Contact Camilla Berens, 07811451417 or  
b) Energy Gardens, at various Overground stations across London
Repowering London, Groundwork and Transport for London have teamed up to transform London Overground platforms and stations into flourishing community gardens. The gardens incorporate food growing plots, and solar-powered lighting and water pumps, as well as other small-scale amenities such as notice boards providing information about community projects. In addition, there are plans to install 2MW of solar PV on rooftops and brownfield sites to generate income that will support the gardens in the long-term.
There are already Energy Gardens at Brondesbury Park, Dalston Kingsland, Hampstead Heath and Acton Central, and progress is being made to bring gardens to Crystal Palace, West Croydon, Hackney Down, Bush Hill Park, Southbury, and Chingford stations. Over the next two years, the Energy Garden team hope to transform a total of 50 stations and platforms.
The Energy Gardens project will also be offering educational and internship opportunities to help young people develop understanding and skills in renewable energy, energy efficiency and urban gardening.
For more information, see 
Contact Agamemnon Otero, founder of Energy Garden, 07960829826,
c) TEG Biogas plant, Dagenham
London’s first commercial anaerobic digestion plant opened in April 2014, and was the first project to be funded by the UK Green Investment Bank. The plant is situated within the Mayor of London’s 60 acre London Sustainable Industries Park in Dagenham, a cluster of environmentally focused enterprises.
The digester has the capacity to process up to 50,000 tonnes of food and green waste per year- the equivalent weight of 263 blue whales. This waste is provided by households and businesses across London, diverted from going to landfill.
It produces 1.4MW of renewable energy per year which is sold to the National Grid, and is enough to power around 400 homes. The plant also produces around 14,000 tonnes of compost, and 36,000 tonnes of digestate annually which is used for agriculture purposes. In addition, residual heat produced during the process is used by a neighbouring recycling plant.
For more information, see
Contact: 0300 123 2167,

Related content