Combined heat and power is the most effective means of realising London’s ambitious carbon emission targets, claims a new report from business group London First.

The report, ‘Cutting the Capital’s Carbon Footprint’ was produced by engineering consultancy Buro Happold and offers a route to achieving London’s ambitious carbon reduction targets. It calls for a quarter of London’s energy to become decentralised, linking large heat users such as housing estates, leisure centres and hospitals to locally-placed cogeneration plants. Some local energy centres may be waste to energy facilities, the report adds.

Calling for collaboration between central government, the mayor and his agencies, energy companies, developers and boroughs, the report’s recommendations include new government and regulatory incentives for CHP, strategic planning at London and borough level to identify potential sites and existing facilities with high heat demands, and a ‘green energy fund’ whereby developers would build the necessary infrastructure into housing and other buildings while making payments to support the establishment of future heat networks.

Judith Salomon, director of planning and development at London First, said: ‘Decentralised energy has an important role to play in reducing London’s climate impact. At the moment there are few incentives in place and too many barriers preventing the success of local heat and power generation. We need to bring existing high-heat-demand buildings into local networks to make the economic and sustainability case for local generation stand up.’ Salomon added: ‘Our report offers a series of recommendations which can deliver on the Mayor’s 25% decentralised energy target, by unlocking the £7 billion (US$12 billion) of private sector investment required.’

Graham Meeks, director of the Combined Heat and Power Association commenting on the report said: ‘Cost is a vital consideration in these difficult economic times. The report demonstrates, once again, that CHP with heat networks provides the most cost-effective route to cutting our carbon emissions – and at the scale needed to deliver a real impact.’