London, UK

London may be famous for its fog and rain, but even in this city’s cloudy weather solar power is making a difference.  Remember: the sun’s light energy, rather than its heat energy, is what powers PV systems, so it is possible for a ‘cold’ country such as the United Kingdom to use PV. Whenever there is daylight, PV panels can work.

London’s City Hall has led by example and in 2007, installed 70 kW of photovoltaic panels to help establish the building’s overall eco-credentials: no waste and no emissions. Over their lifetime, the panels are expected to cut carbon emissions from the building by 3,000 tonnes.

Greater London Authority

At the time of the idea’s conception, the then-London mayor Ken Livingstone said, “Reducing carbon emissions in order to tackle the problem of climate change is the biggest challenge facing humanity and this renewable energy scheme will provide clean, green energy for the home of the London government.”

Elsewhere in London, the suburb of Hackbridge has enjoyed the benefits of a zero-energy housing project named BedZED, which has been installed with 777 m2 of solar panels. Since 2001, the project has won a number of awards, including the RIBA journal sustainability award, and was praised at the UK Solar Awards for being “perhaps the most influential of all housing projects this century.”

Tom Chance