Administrators for the City of London, a historic central district within the wider capital city of London, have signed a 15-year energy deal to receive power from a purpose built Dorset-based solar farm.
The £40 million deal with French renewable energy company Voltalia means that the area will receive enough clean energy to power the equivalent of 15,000 homes for the next 15 years.
It will be used to make up at least half of the electricity required to run the area’s historic buildings such as the Guildhall buildings, the Barbican Centre, and Smithfield Market, among others.
The City of London is famed for housing much of the UK’s financial sector and the Bank of England, and it is known colloquially as just the City or the Square Mile. However, it is only buildings managed by the City of London Corporation, the area’s governing body, that will benefit from the solar energy.
The City of London Corporation has used clean energy to supply some of its power since 2018, buying from existing energy projects. However this is the first time the Corporation has struck a deal to help build a renewable energy project from scratch that it can rely on, the Guardian reported.
Jamie Ingham Clark, of the City of London Corporation, told the Evening Standard this way of sourcing renewable energy was “pioneering” and that other local councils could take inspiration from it.
“This is a pioneering scheme which we hope will lead the way for local authorities across the UK,” he said. “It means they can play their part in reducing emissions without the risks of owning their own energy firms or infrastructure and without the need for government funding.”
The deal means the City of London Corporation will save around £3 million a year in energy costs, it claims.
“Like many organisations, we face an uncertain economic landscape in the wake of Brexit and COVID-19,” Clark continued. “However, we can’t allow that to prevent us tackling climate change, which is now recognised as a global issue which requires immediate action and investment.”
The boost for renewable energy in the City comes after the Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a 10-point plan for a green recovery from COVID-19, which was set out on Tuesday.
It includes some policy ideas that have already been previously proposed by the government — including bringing forward a ban on fossil fuel run cars from 2040 to 2030, which Global Citizen reported on in September.
Other parts of the plan include a £200 million investment in carbon capture initiatives; a pledge to quadruple offshore wind power by 2030; further investment in hydrogen-sourced power; £1 billion to invest in green homes; and a pledge to plant 30,000 hectares of trees each year.
The plan has been welcomed by some organisations, but others warn that the proposals need to be bolder to truly make a difference. National Trust director Hilary McGrady said it was a “fantastic platform” to start with ahead of the COP26 climate conference, which will be hosted in Glasgow next year.
But she said that “technology alone can’t cut emissions and restore nature", adding: “The government will need to follow this up with an ambitious pledge to cut carbons emissions by 2030, in line with the Paris agreement.”
Meanwhile, a transport think tank called New Automotive has published an analysis finding that waiting until 2030 to fully ban petrol cars will not be fast enough, the Guardian reported — because the number of new cars on the roads between now and 2030 will be enough for the country to miss its carbons emissions targets. Instead they say the ban needs to be in place from 2026.
A statement from Downing Street said the new commitments “mark the beginning of the UK’s path to net zero, with further plans to reduce emissions while creating jobs to follow over the next year in the run up to the international COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.”