Solar Energy

MQT on 2014-07-23
Session date: 
July 23, 2014
Question By: 
Jenny Jones
City Hall Greens
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Will you consider the recommendations in my solar energy report 'London is ready for the brighter future'?


Answer for Solar Energy

Answer for Solar Energy

Answered By: 
The Mayor


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):    We are supporting solar energy, Jenny, through London Plan policies RE:NEW and RE:FIT.  I have asked TfL to look at solar roads.  In [the United States of] America, they are trialling a scheme where you extract the energy from the sunlight falling in the road and it seems to work there.


Jenny Jones AM:  Is that Texas as well?


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  It may be.


Jenny Jones AM:  The things you can learn from Texas.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  It may be.  Just because it comes from Texas does not mean it is a bad idea.


Jenny Jones AM:  What I am really concerned about is whether you will consider my recommendations because they are slightly different from yours.  I am very interested in what you are doing and I would love to read about it in a newspaper but I do not have much time, so will you consider my recommendations?


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I am always happy, yes, of course, to consider your recommendations, Jenny. 


On solar in general in London, it is never going to be, I am afraid, a big game-changer, just because of the difficulty of fitting photovoltaics (PV) in London by comparison with elsewhere in the country.  We have many more flats and much less roof space.  We have huge parts of the city that are already conservation areas where you cannot put in this stuff.  It costs a lot to do it.  In London, there is a lot of rental accommodation where nobody wants to go ahead and do it.  Solar, we think, is only really going to meet about 5% of our needs.  We need to be going for other forms of low-carbon energy as well.


Jenny Jones AM:  The point my report makes is that, even taking into account all the difficulties in London, and we have looked at all of those, we are still underperforming.  If I could just give you a few facts and figures, compared with other parts of Britain, London is doing very badly.  Sunderland, for example, has around 4,000 domestic installations; Southwark, which is about the same size, has 200.  Rotherham has over 3,000 and Redbridge, which is about the same size, has 400.  Wigan has nearly 3,000 and Wandsworth has 300.  Comparatively, London is doing really badly.


The cost of the technology has fallen by 50% since 2011.  We are talking about a different situation than was happening even two or three years ago.  You have a team here who could look at this and who could think about it.  For example, I went to visit a school in Islington that gains 25% of its electricity needs from solar panels.  Will you look at this ‑‑


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I will, yes.


Jenny Jones AM:  ‑‑ for schools and businesses and so on, because it is actually a way of improving the wellbeing of Londoners?


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Sure.  I am a big fan of solar.  What you said about Redbridge versus Rotherham was interesting because actually Southwark you might excuse on the grounds that there are many dwellings where it would be difficult to fit solar.  In Redbridge it might be that there is more scope.  Maybe we should be more encouraging of solar in those areas where it could be more readily fitted in London.  I will look at it.  I know Matthew Pencharz [Mayor’s Senior Environment & Energy Advisor] is a great fan of this and a fan of your work in this, so let us see what we can do.


Jenny Jones AM:  That is brilliant.  Thank you.