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London urged to get on board with 'solar revolution'

London urged to get on board with 'solar revolution'

London urged to get on board with 'solar revolution'

A "revolution" is taking place in solar power and London's next mayor must ensure that the city is not left behind, according to Greenpeace.

The environmental lobby group pointed out that solar technology is currently going through a "global investment boom", with costs falling and more countries around the world recognising the benefits that can be gained from harvesting energy from the sun.

In the UK, however, the government has come in for criticism from green campaigners after reducing subsidies for solar power deployment.

Greenpeace warned that London is "lagging behind" and runs the risk of missing out on the jobs, investments, clean energy and other benefits that can be gained from embracing solar power and other renewables.

The organisation cited research showing that the UK capital is behind all other major British cities and regions in terms of solar development, with just 0.5 per cent of its 3.4 million homes using this method of energy generation.

London's electricity consumption is set to double by 2050, meaning the government and local authorities need to find a way to meet the demands of homeowners and businesses without increasing the city's carbon footprint.

According to Greenpeace, there are several practical measures the next mayor can introduce to put the capital "back in the solar race".

Among them is the establishment of a taskforce that would bring together communities, investors and industry groups to collaborate on this issue.

The report also recommended leasing roof space to community energy projects and installing solar panels in unused sites owned by Transport for London and City Hall.

According to analysis by the Energy for London consultancy, measures like these could achieve a tenfold increase in the capital's solar power capacity by 2025, which would be the equivalent of covering nearly 200,000 rooftops.

Both the Labour and Conservative mayoral candidates - Sadiq Khan and Zac Goldsmith respectively - have made pledges to boost London's renewable energy supply and improve efficiency across the city.

Mr Khan has said he wants to lead a clean energy revolution by establishing Energy for Londoners, a non-profit organisation that would pursue policies including a requirement for new property developments to feature solar and low-carbon measures.

Mr Goldsmith also promised to deliver millions of pounds of investment and to do everything in his power to support London's green energy drive.

However, Greenpeace argued that the candidates had fallen short of setting clear targets and funding mechanisms for wider solar power deployment.

Barbara Stoll, UK energy campaigner at the lobby group, 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."

 

Posted by Julie Tucker

Image courtesy of iStock