In response to the growing air quality concerns of the city ranked 38th by the Worldwide Quality of Living Survey, a WSP report titled Powering ahead – fast track to an all-electric city reveals that London could end its downward air pollution spiral and transform itself into a leading global example through commitment to an all-electric future. Improved air quality would mean that London’s streets would become more enjoyable places for people to live and work again, while improving local environments and reducing health costs significantly.

Dramatic CO2 Reductions

At the core of their analysis, WSP researchers believe that an all-electric London can reduce carbon emissions by the current combined totals of Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow and Leeds. The keys to achieving those results begin with a focus on London’s heating and transport sectors, where phasing out existing equipment in lieu of increasingly available electric vehicles and electric heating will help guide the city towards an efficient and low-carbon economy. Buses and taxis currently account for almost 50% of all nitrogen oxide emissions in London. WSP researchers suggest that greater use of electricity in heating and transport could reduce London’s air pollution by more than one third, cutting carbon emissions by 80% and significantly reducing noise pollution.

Currently powered by a mix of electricity, gas, diesel and petrol, an all-electric London would progressively move to electric sources. Buildings will be heated and cooled by heat pumps, rather than gas, while electric vehicles will run on much lower carbon electricity as the National Grid decarbonizes.

“Many of the plans needed have begun, including measures to encourage energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions,” says WSP’s Barny Evans. “That being said, we are actually moving away from electric heating in some instances and are missing an overall vision and clarity of purpose.”

WSP has responded to London’s growing air quality crisis by producing a number of proposals for converting the metropolis into an all-electric city, including:

  • Designing all new houses and offices for electric heating use;
  • Replacing gas boilers with heat pumps;
  • Refocusing the skillsets of plumbers, electricians and architects on a transformation to all-electric;
  • Developing a London-wide electric vehicle hire scheme;
  • Implementing a London-wide ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ).

“If London and other cities committed to becoming all-electric by 2035, that would provide the direction to significantly improve our quality of life,” adds Evans. “We’ve got time to make this a reality.”

Read our White Paper: Powering Ahead