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Powering ahead — fast track to an all-electric city

“One in four Londoners has seriously considered moving out of London because of the city’s noise and air quality – and 4,300 Londoners die every year from breathing bad air (1)"

 

Anyone who has ever struggled to hear a mobile phone call in a London street or choked on a mouthful of fumes would be forgiven for craving a quiet, fume-free city.   

In fact, the need to deal with these problems is critical. One in four Londoners has seriously considered moving out of London because of the city’s noise and air quality.  4,300 Londoners die every year from breathing bad air – 29,000 across the UK. Carrying on ‘business as usual’ will lead to London failing to meet its own greenhouse gas reduction targets. If the capital is going to be one of the world’s leading cities, attracting jobs, growth and investment, then faster action is required.

WSP’s report Powering ahead – fast track to an all-electric city suggests that a London that becomes all-electric – for power, heating and travel – by 2035 is a practical answer.

What is an all-electric city?

London today is powered by a mix of electricity, mains gas, diesel and petrol.  In our all-electric city vision, gas powered heating and petrol or diesel vehicles are progressively replaced with electric sources as they reach the end of their lives. Buildings will be heated and cooled by heat pumps, rather than gas. Our vehicles will all be electric – supported by a city-wide network of electric hire cars.  They will all be running on much lower carbon electricity as the National Grid decarbonises in the coming years.

Electricity does not emit any pollution at the point of use and is quiet. So there are huge possibilities for improving air quality while reducing noise pollution and carbon emissions.

 This all-electric city might look and sound utopian, but many of its features are on the way right now. Heat pumps use the same technology as fridges and are widely used for heating and cooling buildings in Europe today. Electric vehicles are widespread and innovation will transform them further over the coming twenty years. The sharing economy is becoming a multi-million pound business, especially for cars.

At WSP we don’t have a crystal ball, but the signs have been there for a long time that for sustainable city living, the future may be electric.

There’s a strong argument to speed up the process to clean up our cities and make urban life better for everyone.Read our research here. If you are as interested in the idea of going electric as we are, you will want to join the debate. You can find us at www.wspgroup.co.uk

Take a look at the full report here and read the rest of our electric cities research using the headings below:

Electric cities – vision and necessity

Fighting climate change – reducing CO2 emissions

Reducing noise

Taking the city air – the current situation

Forward steps to an electric future

Read the press release

Back to our cities feature

 

[1] https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/London%20EU%20pres%20March%202012.pdf