As we move away from a risky dependency on fossil fuels, the City leads the way in shaping a safer green future
With the arrival of winter’s first snow last week, there is a chill in the air and energy consumption across the UK is rising.
The strain on energy use has been particularly acute for households and businesses this year. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and post-pandemic supply chain struggles have driven soaring prices just at a time when demand is at its highest.
Unless we take swift action, our dependency on fossil fuels risks steep energy prices becoming an entrenched problem holding back the economy.
The International Energy Agency and the European Commission have both warned of gas shortages for next year. The National Grid has also explored the idea of paying people to use energy at off-peak times to avoid stressing the system. And there is an urgent need to source more renewable energy and improve energy efficiency in buildings across the country.
The stakes could not be higher: energy security, energy costs, and climate change.
But just as we face high risks with fossil fuels, an alternative vision for a different, net zero future will offer economic, social and environmental rewards for us all.
The City of London Corporation is proud to be playing its part by sourcing renewable energy for the public services we run for the Square Mile and across the capital.
A new solar farm in Dorset has just been completed which will provide over half of our electricity going forward. World famous landmarks including Tower Bridge, the Barbican Centre, and Guildhall will all be powered by renewable electricity collected from over 91,000 panels.
The deal is the first of its kind in the UK between a renewables producer and a governing body. The scheme will give us clean electricity for at least the next 15 years.
Schools, social housing, and wholesale markets run by the City Corporation will all receive electricity from the site. The solar farm will drastically cut our fossil fuel use and save over £3m per year.
It is a pioneering blueprint for UK local authorities, cutting carbon emissions and giving cheaper, more secure energy, protected from the price volatility of energy markets. All of this, with no reliance on taxpayer funding whatsoever.
Harnessing solar power is the right thing to do for our planet, but it also makes clear business sense.
Renewable electricity growth is accelerating faster than ever worldwide, supporting the emergence of the new global energy economy. Indeed, turnover in the UK low carbon and renewable energy economy was estimated to be £41.2bn in 2020.
That year was ground-breaking, as it also marked the first year in the UK’s history that our electricity came predominantly from renewable energy sources, with 43 per cent of our power coming from a mix of wind, solar, bioenergy and hydroelectric.
The City Corporation’s pathway to delivering a net zero future is guided by our ambitious Climate Action Strategy. Our goal is to achieve net zero carbon emissions in our own operations by 2027 and support the achievement of net zero for the whole Square Mile by 2040.
But it is not enough to just talk about change, or simply set targets: we must deliver. Of course, we will not solve the energy crisis or climate change alone, but the City – as it has done throughout its history – can lead the way in this paramount task.