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City Of London To Go Solar!

December 2, 2020

By Paul Homewood


h/t Gerry



Voltalia (Euronext Paris, ISIN code: FR0011995588), an international player in renewable energies, strengthens its presence in the United Kingdom and will build a 49.9-megawatt solar power plant to supply green electricity to the City, London’s prestigious business district, under a 15-year contract.
A ‘pioneering’ £40 million green energy deal could provide a blueprint for local authorities seeking to reduce carbon emissions and cut costs, the City of London Corporation says.
The governing body of the Square Mile has signed a power purchase agreement with Voltalia – an international player in renewable energies – to buy all the electricity produced by a new-build 95,000-panel solar farm in Dorset for 15 years.
The deal, the first of its kind in the UK to be signed directly between a renewables producer and governing authority, will enable Voltalia to leverage cash to build the facility, while saving the City Corporation around £3 million in energy costs.
It says the arrangement will allow cost certainty and avoid the risks involved with local authority-owned energy firms, following recent high-profile selloffs of loss-making council-owned companies in Nottingham and Bristol.
The solar plant will have a total capacity of 49.9 megawatts – enough to power the equivalent of 15,000 homes – and will provide over half the City Corporation’s electricity, powering buildings including its historic Guildhall headquarters, three wholesale markets and the Barbican arts centre.
The new deal forms part of the organisation’s wider commitment to climate action. Its Climate Action Strategy, launched last month, commits it to making the Square Mile net zero for carbon emissions by 2040 – 10 years earlier than Government goals.


Let’s do a few quick sums.

A 49.9MW solar plant, running at 8% loading, will generate 35000 MWh a year.

Over 15 years, the £40m deal will be worth £2.6m a year, which equates to £74/MWh. It is not clear whether the deal is index linked.

City of London say they will save £3m a year on energy costs, which equals £85/MWh, suggesting they are currently paying £159/MWh, which sounds about right.

Given that levelised solar power costs are £44/MWh (BEIS 2020), there is no way that City of London can buy at £74/MWh, unless they are avoiding most of the network and other costs, which the rest of us have to pay.

According to OFGEM, network costs, policy costs (green subsidies) and utility company operating costs account for two thirds of retail prices. It is not known how much the City will pay towards these costs as part of their green deal, but the less they pay, the more everybody else does.



Needless to say, the City won’t actually be using electricity from the new solar farm, which is in Dorset. And they will be totally reliant on grid power, including fossil fuels at night,

  1. JimW permalink
    December 2, 2020 4:43 pm

    Its just an energy ppa ie purely financial. CoL will still have to pay actual costs of supply ; grid plus TuoS, DuoS etc. On that basis it looks bloody expensive, but its ‘how you tell ’em’ isn’t it. Facts are for the fairies.

  2. JCalvertN(UK) permalink
    December 2, 2020 4:55 pm

    Does this include the Canary Wharf financial district? I doubt it.
    Canary Wharf is the real energy guzzler.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      December 2, 2020 11:37 pm

      It’s close. Maybe changed since 2018, for which I have data (published in Feb 2020 by BEIS). See this UK map of non-domestic electricity consumption:

      That shows Tower Hamlets (which is a bit more than just Canary Wharf) at 2125.7GWh, the City at 2060.1GWh, and Westminster at 3130GWh. A lot of heat but not much light in Westminster. I think by the time you knock out the non Canary Wharf bits of Tower Hamlets the City still just edges it.

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        December 3, 2020 12:48 am

        Even though I’d be a bit more generous than Paul and guess they might produce about 50GWh a year, it is of course utterly puny and insignificant in the context of City consumption, being less than 2.5% of it. Perhaps enough for the Corporation of London’s lights and buildings.

  3. cajwbroomhill permalink
    December 2, 2020 4:56 pm

    We desperately need politicians who, like Donald T., have seen through all the decarbonisation-renewables insanity but those who have, like Peter Lilley and Nigel Lawson and, perhaps, John Redwood do not get listened to.
    The main point is that the UK’s greenhouse gas output is negligible, at <<1% of the planet's.

  4. Coeur de Lion permalink
    December 2, 2020 4:57 pm

    Given the sine curve of generation it will be grid for much of the day even when the sun is shining. Should I shift my pension fund before the lights go out?

    • Ben Vorlich permalink
      December 2, 2020 6:18 pm

      Gold is the usual choice in a mad world.

    • December 2, 2020 6:21 pm

      If you are expecting a power cut, perhaps you could take on a shedload of debt and hope that it disappears when the system crashes!

  5. Broadlands permalink
    December 2, 2020 5:30 pm

    “… wider commitment to climate action. Its Climate Action Strategy, launched last month, commits it to making the Square Mile net zero for carbon emissions by 2040 – 10 years earlier than Government goals.”

    It’s not the net zero Square Mile that counts. It’s the Cubic Mile where all those tons of CO2 reside that CCS technology is trying to remove and bury somewhere. At last count it was 5.6 gigatonnes by 2050. Good luck with that commitment.

  6. December 2, 2020 6:20 pm

    It’s about time someone came up with a metric for energy production that factors in the consistency and dispatchability of supply.

    Power is not much good because it is entirely misleading in the case of solar, only being applicable to 1pm on a particular sunny tuesday in June. Energy produced is not much better because not all energy is of equal worth. Energy supplied when it is needed is obviously worth more than energy supplied when there is plenty of other energy.

    Something like power divided by the standard deviation of capacity factor averaged over the year?

    Dunno, but these moronic press releases “umpteen megawatts, enough to power a bazillion houses” need to go in the trash.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      December 2, 2020 11:19 pm

      The Home is a highly malleable unit of energy. I’ve recently seen it as low as 2.5MWh per year (one of the wind farms), and known it to be as high as 4.2MWh/year. It should be banned from public discourse. Of course, it would be it they had to include home charging of EVs – or electrically powered heating. Suddenly only 20% of homes would be powered by the same windmill.

    • StephenP permalink
      December 3, 2020 7:46 am

      You just have to look at gridwatch templar to see the pathetic amount of electricity put out by solar over the past month.
      Presumably the City will close down when the sun doesn’t shine, so they will be able to take a nice break in the winter, and get home early from work when it gets dark. Provided of course that they have been able to charge their EVs.

    • dave permalink
      December 3, 2020 2:26 pm

      “…moronic press releases…”

      Sixty years ago, the satirist Peter Simple named his go-to journalistic married couple –
      Jack Moron and Doreen Gaggs. And he was himself a denizen of Fleet Street!

  7. December 2, 2020 6:53 pm


    Off topic, but if you see this do listen on I player to the programme on the world service at 4pm today It was about climate change and had the secretary general of the UN no less, making the most hystericallyvoutrageous claims about climate aided by Attenborough and various young tearful activists.

    It could do with taking apart, nonsense by nonsense. Perhaps the GWPF might also like a listen

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      December 2, 2020 8:06 pm

      R4 managed to carry it at 6:00 this evening. It seems the BBC allow the great and the good to make up all sorts of unprovable crap at will yet will not carry any allegations of election tampering in the US election because they have no proof.

      • dave permalink
        December 3, 2020 8:58 am

        “tampering…no proof.”

        They have the proof, but it will do them little good, because the Courts are infected with TDS and ‘play dumb’ when shown it; except – just possibly – the Supreme Court?

      • jack broughton permalink
        December 3, 2020 12:57 pm

        The BBC and other UK news outlets equally, have refused to allow debate on many important topics: Global warming is the biggest financially. But they do not allow any questioning of Israeli action, the problems in Europe of the Islamic communities, Saudi Arabia’s genocidal “war” in the Yemen, the mad USA policy over Iran as just a few that come straight to mind. We really need these promised new news outlets to get going to provide some real News. I use Russia Today and Al Jazeera for some less biased coverage, but mainly the internet.

  8. December 2, 2020 6:56 pm

    ‘Solar PV panels have a capacity factor of around 10% in the UK climate.’

    Like it or not, climate obsessives can’t change the latitude of the UK or its weather.

  9. December 2, 2020 7:42 pm

    Yet another solar farm of capacity 49.9MW, which means it is just below the 50.0MW size at which it would have to go through a proper examination process. We have two applications in Devon for 49.9MW solar farms, which means they will be decided by a planning officer or a planning committee, neither of which is competent to make a decision. Of course the applicants say that they just happen to be 49.9MW because that is all that they can fit into the ~150ha of available land. Corruption still rules the solar power industry.

    • December 2, 2020 9:20 pm


      Which ones in Devon do you mean? My letter about the one planned for Torquay was published in the local paper today

  10. Ed Gruberman permalink
    December 2, 2020 7:50 pm

    Does the sun ever come out in London?

    • Gerry, England permalink
      December 3, 2020 11:55 am

      The solar farm will be built in Dorset.

  11. Harry Passfield permalink
    December 2, 2020 7:51 pm

    Such a curious situation that, had it not been for the smokeless Acts of the ’50s the same London smog would have played havoc with Khan’s solar arrays (albeit, I know they are a long way from London).
    Two things occur: In the ’50s no one called it being carbon neutral – but they would now; and, if there’s anything to do with subsidy-mining, you just know Khan will be in for a big slice of it.

  12. yonason permalink
    December 2, 2020 7:54 pm

    It’s all like a never ending episode of The Goon Show.

    • cajwbroomhill permalink
      December 2, 2020 8:22 pm

      Yes, Yonason, but without the humour and taken as gospel by the brainwashed masses!

      • Harry Passfield permalink
        December 2, 2020 8:38 pm

        HRH Charlie was a great GOON fan. I figure it shows…he’s fallen in the watter!

      • yonason permalink
        December 2, 2020 9:06 pm


        Yes, exactly.

      • yonason permalink
        December 2, 2020 9:07 pm

        @Harry Passfield

        “he’s fallen in the watter!”

        Those rotten swines!

  13. MrGrimNasty permalink
    December 2, 2020 9:43 pm

    Met Office has issued November 2020 CET mean.

    After the forecast at the start of the month indicated a pretty average November to come, the predicted chill failed to arrive and November 2020 fell into the pattern of very warm Novembers of latter years, ranked joint (with 5 other years) 14th warmest out of 362 years.

    Given that the long-term forecast for December would have to be catastrophically wrong, a record annual figure is unlikely, but not quite impossible – it only has to be as relatively mild as Jan and Feb.

    It looks like the annual CET mean will end up somewhere between 3rd and 5th warmest.

    This is undoubtedly close enough that the MO will be able to crunch a hottest year evah for the UK or England using all the poor quality UHI-saturated local weather station data.

    I see the ‘2020 to be one of the hottest years globally evah’ stories are now appearing at the BBC etc. Given that global ocean temperature aren’t even known in the 1970s, let alone 1850……….

    • Gerry, England permalink
      December 3, 2020 12:00 pm

      Interesting one about 2020 globally given all the cold records that have been set since possibly as early as August. Of course a lot of ‘gridding’ will take place – also known as ‘making it up’. Even with the Argobuoys ocean temperature is still hard to measure globally with any accuracy.

      But with lots of fiddling they can do it, after all, so far they have stolen the election in allegedly the largest democracy in the world.

  14. December 2, 2020 10:06 pm

    Ben Pile tweets “new video by me and @MhehedZherting
    on Boris’s £5 billion hydrogen fantasy.”

  15. It doesn't add up... permalink
    December 2, 2020 11:02 pm

    I think you are being a little unkind on the production of a solar farm in sunny Dorset. Here’s a very similar one for location, with a long history (2012 to date)

    It has averaged about 525MWh/year from 604kW of panels – basically almost exactly 10% capacity factor. A larger commercial plant ought to do a bit better through paying close attention to detail in the angle and orientation of the panels, and regular cleaning and maintenance – so not much downtime when they need to replace an inverter for instance. 11-12% ought to be in reach.

  16. M E permalink
    December 3, 2020 5:07 am

    In New Zealand our Prime Minister has declared in Paliament that we are in a Climate Crisis

    so there!

    • cajwbroomhill permalink
      December 3, 2020 6:59 am

      The political cry of “Climate Crisis” is just a convenient, tendentious slogan because it lacks any specific definition, scientific or notional.
      Such a claim has no more validity than “the world is on fire”
      The brainwashed masses will be scared for no justification, as with most or all Green squeals.

      • Gerry, England permalink
        December 3, 2020 5:01 pm

        But the problem is that having declared this crisis, eco-nuts can now break the law and use this as an excuse and get let off. It has happened in the US and here in the UK. But then given politicians can’t think so never see the unexpected consequences of that actions.

  17. Brian Johnston permalink
    December 3, 2020 8:34 am

    Good luck. The problem is it will not work. PV solar does not have the capacity to power the grid. One needs to understand how electricity is generated.
    A turbine has to rotate at a fixed speed by law. It has to produce 50Hz exactly by law. The tolerances are slight. Subsequent turbines must be synchronized per law. As demand increases the force to drive the turbine must increase. Generation must match demand.
    PV solar will not cut it.

  18. A C Osborn permalink
    December 3, 2020 8:59 am

    One thing that hasn’t been discussed is that this is a foreign company, so along with Turbines our governments are fsrming out the business to foreign companies, so our hard earned tax money disappears abroad.

  19. MrGrimNasty permalink
    December 3, 2020 9:34 am

    Given that the illusory ‘social cost of carbon’ is the bedrock of the renewables accounting fraud, shouldn’t solar farms have to pay a levy/be cost judged for the manifest visual damage to the landscape, loss of amenity of the countryside, loss of productive farmland, loss of wildlife habitat etc.?

  20. Gerry, England permalink
    December 3, 2020 11:53 am

    And in CityAM today is the news that only 3658 customers have signed up to London Power (run by Octopus Energy) that was set up by Two Bob Chancer, the Mayor of London at a cost of £3.2m – so £875 per customer. Apparently it was set up to save Londoners £300 a year on bills.

    You still see these claims from the likes of uswitch that you can save these sort of sums per year so I wonder what is the spread of electricity tariffs? The article does say that London has 64 suppliers according to Ofgem and that prices there are some of the highest in the country. Given we have a national grid why should it be more expensive in London. Is it higher network charges as most of the generation has gone from the London area?

    As I regularly check and switch I would not see any large saving but when Economy Energy crashed my gas supply was taken on by Ovo and as soon as I could I left and saved £400.

  21. It doesn't add up... permalink
    December 3, 2020 3:33 pm

    November was an unremarkable month according to National Grid. They didn’t even notice the record amounts of curtailment payments and volumes.

    They note we exported 578.11GWh without pointing out that much of it was at very low and even negative prices, while consumers kept paying wind farm subsidies via CFDs and Renewables Obligations, and while we curtailed 702.769 GWh at a cost of £50,329,040.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      December 3, 2020 6:52 pm

      The constraint payment and volume is a new monthly record, and the first time it has exceeded £50m in a month.

    • jack broughton permalink
      December 4, 2020 12:37 pm

      Has the world stopped producing economists? Decisions are being made on an uncosted basis by eco-idealists with little understanding of the cost – benefit issue

  22. Mad Mike permalink
    December 3, 2020 5:07 pm

    I think we are missing the big point here by focusing on individual items of lunacy one at a time.

    Covid 19 has made our future financial deficit look horrendous and we can look forward to years, if not decades, of repayments burdening our economy. i can’t remember the exact figures but we could have 4 or 5 HS2s for what we have borrowed. This is not the end of the borrowing though.

    We have also been told that we are likely to spend another £1tn or more on bringing in the new Green Economy. Thats a shedful of money which will have to be paid for at some stage, probably by more borrowing.

    The Greens will tell us that we are a rich country and we will be in the position to pay it back because of our strong economy. They also say we will have a Green manufacturing dividend by producing things that are really only concepts now and maybe not demanded by the rest of the world anyway. But here is the fly in ointment. Allied to all these renewables etc. is a dramatic change in our way of life and the way we can earn money. If you go back to the Absolute Zero document, which laid out the blueprint for the future direction we are to follow and seems to be where the Government is heading, huge changes in the way we make steel, cement and practically anything else that enables us to produce the things we need and export are coming. it is not at all clear how we are going to produce goods to sell or grow the food we eat and therefore our ability to pay our way in the world. With all that debt to pay back, if we can’t make the payments, then we can say goodbye to a decently priced pound and we will degenerate in to a basket case country saddled with high energy costs and high material costs, not to mention the debt. It would not be unfair to say that we might end up as a subsistence economy with hunger and fuel poverty a much, much bigger problem that we have now.

    This might seem fanciful atm but think down the road a bit and see where we could end up. The bigger picture is where will be and it won’t be rosy.

    • cajwbroomhill permalink
      December 3, 2020 7:08 pm

      I believe most if not all followers of these columns would agree that decarbonisation and, indeed, most Greenery, is a total waste of resources.
      There are many reasons for saying for that but the main one for us is that the UK’s output of greenhouse gases, as a proportion of the global total, is negligible.

      We cannot afford to make a token, futile gesture.

  23. Gamecock permalink
    December 5, 2020 12:55 am

    So they figured you would never figure out that they really aren’t going to get electricity from a solar farm in Dorset.

    ‘A ‘pioneering’ £40 million green energy deal could provide a blueprint for local authorities seeking to reduce carbon emissions and cut costs, the City of London Corporation says.’

    So WTF are they getting for their £40 million ?!?! I assume the £40 million is real.

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