Monday March 23rd… Dear Diary. The main purpose of this ongoing blog will be to track United States extreme or record temperatures related to climate change. Any reports I see of ETs will be listed below the main topic of the day. I’ll refer to extreme or record temperatures as ETs (not extraterrestrials)😉
Main Topic: Good News From London On Conversion To Green Transportation
Dear Diary: Today among all of the coronavirus bad news I’d like to report some good news on the climate crisis green news transportation front. Over the weekend I saw this tweet concerning what is rapidly happening around London on lampposts:
Here is some nerdy history on lamp posts around London (virtually since we can’t go there because of the pandemic).
London’s Most Unusual Lamp Posts
By Eleana Overett Last edited 30 months ago
Considering there’s already a Loo Tour of London, we’re just waiting for someone to come up with a lamp post tour too. London has the lamp post boast of being the first city to demonstrate public street lighting with gas on the 28 January 1807 in Pall Mall, with lamps stretching from St James’s to Cockspur Street. So while we wait for someone to jump on this great idea, here are a few London lamp post highlights to get them started.
1. London loves gas… lamps that is
One way to get rid of the excess methane that built up in London’s sewer system was to redirect it up towards the streets and burn it off in gas street lamps. Gas lamps were never purely powered by this sewer gas, however; they were mostly fuelled by the mains gas supply. The only example of a Webb Patent Sewer Gas Lamp left in London is located behind the Savoy on Carting Lane — affectionately known as Farting Lane — though this is a replica as the original was damaged by a lorry some years ago.
At one time there were thousands of working gas lamps in London, and though they’ve now mostly been converted to use electricity, there are still 1500 of them dotted around the city. Find out where they are and more about them here.
2. Hiding a Cold War secret
There are many spy sites in London, and Roy Berkeley’s A Spy’s London does a great job covering them. One such site is a lamp post at Audley Square, which was used by the KGB as a letter drop during the Cold War. A trap door in the back was the perfect hiding place for coded messages, and KGB operatives would put a chalk mark below the number 8 on the post to indicate a message was ready to be picked up. This site was only discovered when double agent Colonel Oleg Gordievsky was extracted from Russia and revealed its location.
3. Dual purpose for healthier streets
Across London, lamp posts are beginning to double up their purpose as both lights and charging stations for electric cars. Ubitricity is a German firm attempting to enable the expansion of electric car use in major cities by providing electricity points that don’t add additional and potentially ugly street furniture to our pavements. It seems a promising idea, with residents of Twickenham and Barnes already able to use these lamp posts, and more boroughs are next on the list to receive them.
4. Conversation starters
If you were in the Olympic Park in late 2016, you may have spotted a very strange sight — people texting lamp posts. It wasn’t just lamp posts, the public could text almost anything from utility boxes to phone boxes and have a conversation with a usually inanimate object. The Hello Lamp Post project’s aim was to ‘encourage you to look at the area in which you live, work or play with fresh eyes and engage with objects you might sometimes take for granted’. Quite sad we missed it, actually.
5. Chosen by Londoners
If you’ve spent any time by the Thames then you’ll have seen the writhing dolphin/sturgeon lamp posts that line up and light up the embankment. They were chosen by the public who loved the design, and they have their own Wikipedia page so clearly they’re worth mentioning. The London Metropolitan Board of Works wanted to install new electric lights along the Thames in the late 1860s and put out a call for design submissions. One of these designs was submitted by George John Vulliamy based on the intertwined fish of the Fontana del Nettuno in Rome. Several magazines published the various designs, and posters along Victoria Embankment gauged public interest before the final decision was made. Vulliamy’s won the popular vote, one of the reasons being that it lent itself to repetition, as opposed to some of the other grander and more elaborate designs. Love them? Hate them? Well now you know who to blame: 19th century Londoners.
6. Adorned with colourful flying rats
In 2015, an unusual flock of pigeons came to rest on the lamp posts of Soho Square and Greek Street. These colourful birds were created by Patrick Murphy and we reported at the time they were only supposed to be hanging around for a few months. Well, two years on, you can still see a few of these winged creatures latched to their perches, which have turned ordinary lamp posts into pieces of art, and a statement about marginalised groups many will probably miss.
7. The listed mystery
Many a lamp post in London is now listed, which stops councils from ripping out works of beautiful engineering for, okay, arguably more efficient and probably more cost effective lamp posts. But we’re a city built on history, and part of that history is the way we’ve lit our streets. Ealing has a great example of a cast iron standard with the base dating back to 1895, and looped cursive LEB (London Electricity Board).
However, when it was listed in 1981, the standard was described as having ‘4 modern lamps on semi-circular brackets supported by wrought-iron scrolls’. A picture sourced by London Historians’ Blog from the London Metropolitan Archives shows that in 1976, this was in fact the case. What happened to the original standard? We’re not sure, but we’re curious.
8. Busting a few myths
If you’ve taken a stroll down The Mall, have you ever noticed the ships that sit on top of the lamp posts? They were designed by Sir Thomas Brock and are said to represent each of Nelson’s ships at Trafalgar, though this doesn’t seem to be a theory backed up with any hard evidence. It’s more likely that they simply signify Britain’s strong naval history. Another prevailing myth is that the statue of Nelson atop his column at Trafalgar Square faces down The Mall so he can survey his fleet of nautical lamp posts, but this is easily debunked as he in fact faces down Whitehall at something else entirely.
9. Crop circles or blueprints?
Where Jools Holland saw crop circles, the designers of these lamp posts saw the plans of the Canary Wharf development. These lamp post designs were specially commissioned and installed on site back in the 1990s. We’re not sure exactly where these lamp posts are, so if you find yourselves over that way we’d be interested in seeing a snap or two. And you can read a tongue-in-cheek run down of this episode of Building Sights here.
Last Updated 26 September 2017
Now here is that good news from the linked tweet:
Mar 21, 2020 at 6:00am
All lamppost along Sutherland Avenue in London are now also charging points.
Siemens happily announced that together with ubitricity and Westminster City Council, it has successfully converted all 24 lampposts into EV charging points using existing city infrastructure along Sutherland Avenue (over half a mile in length) in London.
It’s the UK’s first residential avenue, coined ‘Electric Avenue, W9’, with all lamppost turned into charging points.
A further two adjoining roads are due to be completed in the coming weeks, while the Westminster City Council’s overall goal is to increase the number of charging points from 296 currently to about 1,000 in 2020.
The lamppost charging is seen as a solution for residential charging, although we must note a significant drawback of a necessity to connect your own charging cable every time.
On the other hand, the installation of a charging point on a lamp column is economical. Daniel Bentham, Managing Director of ubitricity UK said: “Lamppost charging gives people without driveways a very convenient, low cost, renewable, energy-friendly way to charge their EVs. Cars spend 95 per cent of their lives idle, so it makes sense to charge them while the driver is doing something else, like sleeping or working. Our technology is designed to keep installation and maintenance costs low, which translates to long-term low costs for EV drivers and councils,”
Currently over 1,300 such points were installed by Siemens and ubitricity in London.
Motorists currently believe there are only 100 to 200 EV charging points in London, which is less than 10 percent of Siemens installations currently available. Meanwhile, almost a third believed there were no EV charging points near their home or workplace. The transformation of Sutherland Avenue utilizes existing infrastructure for EV charge points, creating a simple, fast network that looks to provide charge to the expected eight thousand EVs forecast to be registered in Westminster City Council by 2025.”
Siemens unveils UK’s first converted ‘Electric Avenue’
- Sutherland Avenue is UK’s first residential avenue fully converted to provide lamppost electric vehicle charging points
- Conversions address growing demand for electric vehicles, add 24 charging points
- Helps Westminster reach its thousand charge point target for 2020
Siemens has unveiled the UK’s first avenue, which is over half a mile in length, that has been fully converted to cater for electric vehicle (EV) charging, coined ‘Electric Avenue, W9’.
The project, in collaboration with ubitricity and Westminster City Council, has successfully converted 24 lampposts into EV charge points using existing city infrastructure. Residents can now charge EVs at various locations along Sutherland Avenue in London, with a further two adjoining roads due to be completed in the coming weeks. The launch follows research conducted by Siemens showing over a third (36 per cent) of British motorists planned to buy a hybrid or electric vehicle as their next car, with two in five people (40 per cent) saying that a lack of charging points stopped them from doing so sooner. This makes it the biggest factor deterring motorists from purchasing an electric or hybrid vehicle. ‘Electric Avenue, W9’ showcases a shift in attitudes towards EVs that Britain’s capital is experiencing. Data shows 80 per cent of motorists in central London believe it is ‘very important’ that air quality is improved, and 83 per cent have become more concerned about their carbon footprint in the past five years. Westminster has seen a 40 per cent growth in EVs charged in the borough during 2019.
Westminster City Council currently has more EV points than any UK local authority, with a total of 296 lamp column charge points in the city, 24 of which are located on ‘Electric Avenue, W9’. There are plans to reach a thousand charge points across Westminster City Council within the next year, as it has twice the number of locally registered EVs than any other inner London borough, and the most among all the other London boroughs. Siemens and ubitricity have now completed over 1,300 installations covering the breadth of the city, significantly funded from the Go Ultra Low Cities Scheme, supporting Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan’s #LetLondonBreathe campaign and leading the way to improve London’s air quality. “We know that half of London’s air pollution is caused by road transport and Westminster is a particularly busy area. While we cannot solve the challenge of air quality overnight, ‘Electric Avenue W9’ is an important showcase of what’s possible using existing city infrastructure. It illustrates how residential streets will look in the near future, and accelerates the shift to zero emission vehicles,” said Cedrik Neike, Member of the Managing Board of Siemens AG and CEO of Siemens Smart Infrastructure. “In a city that suffers from some of the worst air pollution in the country, we need to be supporting the change to green technology as much as we can. ‘Electric Avenue, W9’ gives us a glimpse into the future of streets in Westminster, where we hope to provide the infrastructure needed for our residents to make the switch to cleaner, greener transport,” said Cllr Andrew Smith, Westminster City Council Cabinet Member for Environment & Highways.
Motorists currently believe there are only 100 to 200 EV charging points in London, which is less than 10 percent of Siemens installations currently available. Meanwhile, almost a third believed there were no EV charging points near their home or workplace. The transformation of Sutherland Avenue utilizes existing infrastructure for EV charge points, creating a simple, fast network that looks to provide charge to the expected eight thousand EVs forecast to be registered in Westminster City Council by 2025. “Lamppost charging gives people without driveways a very convenient, low cost, renewable, energy-friendly way to charge their EVs. Cars spend 95 per cent of their lives idle, so it makes sense to charge them while the driver is doing something else, like sleeping or working. Our technology is designed to keep installation and maintenance costs low, which translates to long-term low costs for EV drivers and councils,” said Daniel Bentham, Managing Director of ubitricity UK. Speaking about Electric Avenue, W9, London’s Deputy Mayor for the Environment and Energy, Shirley Rodrigues said: “Our bold action to tackle the capital’s air pollution and climate threats is sparking a revolution in electric transport in the capital. Last year, more than 140 organizations supported the Mayor’s EV Infrastructure Taskforce – developing a plan on how to expand public charging points across the capital. This sort of innovation is what we have been calling for and it will go a long way to support our growing charging network.” “As the petrol and diesel car ban draws closer and London boroughs work to improve our air quality, we’re excited to have completed our first fully converted Avenue, ‘Electric Avenue, W9’. Our partnership with ubitricity to convert lampposts for charging EV and hybrid vehicles is one of many initiatives Siemens is undertaking to help futureproof our roads and help drivers make better choices when it comes to travel,” said Bernard Magee, Sales Director of Future Grid at Siemens.
Notes to journalists:
Further research: A third of people (36 per cent) noted concerns that there would not be enough battery for their travel requirements. The technology used in the conversions allows EVs to be charged overnight to a range of approximately 124 – 186 miles, depending on the battery charging system used in the car. Hybrid cars can often be fully charged in about two to three hours.
I’ll endeavor to bring more good news on the electric vehicle front as we move through this critical year of 2020.
Now, here are some of todays articles on the horrendous coronavirus pandemic:
Here is more climate and weather news from Monday:
(As usual, this will be a fluid post in which more information gets added during the day as it crosses my radar, crediting all who have put it on-line. Items will be archived on this site for posterity. In most instances click on the pictures of each tweet to see each article.)
(If you like these posts and my work please contribute via the PayPal widget, which has recently been added to this site. Thanks in advance for any support.)
Guy Walton “The Climate Guy”