By Anders Lorenzen
A fictitious futuristic account of how London’s electricity supply might look in 2030.
This is written as an entry to Masdar Engage Blogging Contest.
To deal with the worsening impact of climate change, London’s incoming Mayor in 2030 has decided that radical changes are needed to deal with how the city consumes and produces energy. London which now totals over 15 million inhabitants is by far the largest European city.
Heatwaves have over the recent decade become a common theme in London and its not unusual for the temperature to exceed 35 degrees celsius. Thus it has become a priority to maximise London’s potential for solar power, building on a progressive strategy pioneered by the previous Mayor in the 2020s. Today London’s largest electricity source comes from the power of the sun.
Part of the Mayor’s plan is also to encourage energy co-operatives. 50% of all London’s electricity is generated by solar panels on London’s homes, offices, government buildings, infrastructure and industrial sites. London also has its own grid, ironically controlled from the iconic London landmark of the Battersea Power Station where a giant battery package has been installed. With more energy generated locally, less energy is lost during transportation.
London’s solar power is 90% controlled by the 10,000 energy co-operatives spread across greater London – spanning from Croydon in the south to Barnet in the north. During the summer months when solar power generation in London is at it’s maximum, it can provide up to 80% of total electricity consumption. The large battery pack at Battersea Power Station, nicknamed by by the Evening Standard newspaper as ‘The Battery of London’ is charged up by excess solar energy. Come winter time, when London only get 20% electricity from the sun, the battery kicks in making sure the lights are kept on.
The rest of London’s electricity is produced by wind power, small scale hydro and wave power. Small wind farms have been erected on industrial sites in the greater London area, all connected to the ‘Greater London Grid’. They are placed on industrial sites on the outskirts of London because this is where the greatest London wind resources are. Secondly, heavy industries are the most energy hungry in today’s society and placing these large renewable energy generators where most energy is needed makes sense. But the biggest contributor to the ‘Greater London Grid’ is the London Array offshore wind farm, which has been extended to a total capacity of 3.5 gigawatt (GW) making it Europe’s largest wind farm.This is the backup to the grid; due to the increasing winds from unpredictable weather it is always generating energy. When energy demand in London is low or generation capacity from London’s solar panels is high, the London Array delivers capacity to the neighboring ‘Essex Grid’. Small scale hydro and wave power has been installed along the River Thames and on some of London’s canal networks. These deliver extra capacity and energy diversity to the ‘Greater London Grid’.
At a recent European Union award ceremony London was crowned the most innovative European city when it comes to the use of energy. City planners and energy enthusiasts primarily from Africa, India and China visit London on a weekly basis to learn from their city planning and energy achievements.