London council to set up own renewable energy company

22nd April 2015


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Nicholas Johnn

Barking and Dagenham council has approved the creation of an energy services company (ESCO) to accelerate the development of renewable energy projects on its own land and buildings.

The council, which would own the ESCO, is aiming to slash its £6 million annual energy bill by installing wind turbines in the area, constructing a water turbine on the river Roding and fitting solar panels on the roofs of local schools, the town hall and other council-owned buildings.

The plan also includes replacing streetlights with LEDs powered by solar panels. The council says it is working a local college to develop an innovative design to retrofit lamp posts.

The London borough hopes to establish the company by the end of the year. It has secured £150,000 funding from the energy and climate department (Decc) to complete a feasibility study and will use £250,000 of its own money to establish the company.

Darren Rodwell, leader of the council, said: “We’d like to see Barking and Dagenham become the green capital of the capital. Across our schools, offices and other buildings we spend an eye-watering £6 million a year on gas and electricity

“Investing in renewable energy will not only bring down this bill and secure jobs but it will also free up much needed funds to invest in other council services. We can’t afford not to do this.”

Creating an ESCO to carry out such work has several benefits, according to a document produced for the council’s cabinet. These include: acting as expert project developer and asset manager; securing and leveraging private funding for specific projects or across a portfolio of projects; assuming technical, contract and performance risk related to the project; and working with, and developing, community-owned energy enterprises.

Currently less than 3% of London’s electricity comes from renewal sources. The figure for Barking and Dagenham is only 1%, the council says. Decc has estimated that London could produce 34% of its electricity from renewable technologies.

Local authorities in Woking, Peterborough and Norfolk have already established ESCOs and those in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Bristol are working on similar plans.

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