Westminster MPs back mandatory solar panels on new build homes

Westminster MPs back mandatory solar panels on new build homes

SE24 has 7 solar installations on community buildings in South London.

As well as funding and installing these ‘people’s power stations’ SE24 is also part of the wider campaign to encourage planning authorities everywhere to view favourably the installation of solar panels and battery storage. Together these measures will help reduce our dependency on fossil fuels.

So it was particularly encouraging to read of a recent YouGov survey that revealed that:

‘79% of all MPs support making solar panels mandatory for all new-build homes from 2025 onwards. Three in five MPs (approximately 61%) believe that residential battery energy storage systems (BESS) should also be mandatory in new homes. The figure rises to 77% when focused solely on Labour MPs.’

Source: Ottilie Von Henning on Solar Power Portal, February 15, 2024

Five of our SE24 solare sites are on land under the freehold ownership of Dulwich Estates where the planning restrictions can be quite restrictive. Panels should be invisible from street level.

However they have similar rules regarding Velux windows however this latter ruling is widely ignored and we wonder how long it might be before the same applies to solar panels allowing more home owners and community buildings to start generating their own green electricity.

In the era of retrofit if solar panels were to become mandatory on new build homes then surely we should also loosen any restrictions on installing on existing housing stock and community buildings.

Welcome Kirsty Hamilton – SE24 Director

Welcome Kirsty Hamilton – SE24 Director

At the AGM we thanked Colin Crooks who has stepped down as a Director of SE24 having given so much to our operation over the past 5 years.

In his place we welcome a brand new, highly qualified director – Kirsty Hamilton. We asked Kirsty to introduce herself to SE24 by explaining why she is so keen to get more involved in Community Energy.

Climate crisis

July 2023 saw the hottest global temperatures on record, horrific scenes of fires raging across the Mediterranean and north Africa on the nightly news. This is amid a litany of climate-change linked disasters, many occurring in parts of the world where communities do not have the resources to respond and bounce back.

It’s a year on from 40C London, coinciding with the evolving energy price crisis that followed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The latter threw a powerful spotlight on the real cost of delays to insulating or retrofitting our homes and buildings for the future (both cold and heat) as well as the benefit renewables can bring. 

Community energy

Community energy can seem a small place to start in the face of such challenges given the scale and pace of climate action that is needed and the energy geopolitics that hinder decisive action. However, I believe that new locally developed models for energy solutions are an expanding and essential part of change.

Local ownership of projects through share offers is one SE24 example. These are new actions and solutions that literally start at home, in schools and community buildings we all use and involve new models such as community shareholding.

Retrofit and energy efficiency

The SE24 AGM and Public Meeting in June included excellent presentation from Harry Paticas, founder of RAFT – Retrofit Action for Tomorrow about RAFT’s pioneering work to improve energy efficiency in schools, and in the process to involve, educate and motivate pupils to make do their bit to improve energy efficiency.

Community Energy London

We also welcomed Syed Ahmed, Chair of Community Energy London (CEL) who eloquently argued the case that community energy has had a significant impact on policy in London and nationally. He introduced a brilliant search tool (the ‘potential map’) which allows anyone to find community buildings, in each borough, that are suitable for solar PV generation. Local council funding for community energy was another theme. CEL highlight hundreds of initiatives across London featuring SE24 installations!


That’s why I’m so pleased to be joining SE24 after over 30 years working at the international and national end of climate and energy as a Scot in Nunhead for the last 17 years.

I started out as a climate campaigner in Aotearoa New Zealand in 1990 (with the energy efficiency authority pulling together the analysis on the ‘avoided cost of electricity generation’– ‘negawatts’ – in 1989!).

As a campaigner I was at COP1 of the climate negotiations in 1995 and most recently COP26 in Glasgow! It is sobering thought though: in the year of COP1 global CO2 concentrations averaged 360ppm; by teh time of COP26 in Glasgow had escalated to 412 ppm. 

Much of my campaigning endeavour in London has been at the intersect between the financial sector and green energy policy – aiming to accelerate investment in renewables – but larger scale.

To me, all of these threads are linked, focusing on action on the ground that benefits people locally is going to be mission critical.  Here we are, again, 4 months from the onset of winter it seems more urgent than ever that actions are enabled at home or in community-focused and public buildings.

The work of SE24 and other community energy groups is part of making that happen.  The photo below shows their project at Charter School North Dulwich – two projects in one – community solar plus retrofit energy efficiency improvements.

SE24 installed more 300 plus panels on the school roofs to generate green electricity; and installed more than 1200 new LED light fittings inside which massively reduced the school’s electricity bills and their carbon footprint.

SE24 installation at Charter School, North Dulwich

International action in parallel with local action

Retrofit is certainly not easy. I know from personal experience trying to make my small flat more energy efficient (freezing in winter, boiling in summer – the familiar story) on a small budget and waiting to see what the Great British Insulation Scheme will do.

Published on 1 August 2023:

At the international level many are actively trying to ensure this year’s COP – COP28 – in UAE in late November ramps up commitment to global renewables. It is also essential to cut out fossil fuels and provide ‘climate finance’ for greater resilience and adaptation to climate change. 

But closer to home, I’m keen to see what I can contribute to SE24, and what I can learn from the exceptionally experienced SE24 Board of energy experts and leaders.  

Looking forward to 2023

Looking forward to 2023

SE24 New Year Social and 2023 briefing

It was great to see so many SE24 members and friends at our New Year Social last Sunday at the Carnegie Library. The attached presentation shows how SE24 made great progress in 2022. 2023 looks likely to be equally interesting with many opportunities for new installations.


Volunteers are now helping us in many new ways: with lighting surveys, grant applications, financial planning, promoting SE24. We always need more volunteers so if you would like to volunteer with us please contact our volunteer manager Dave Rinaldi (on [email protected]).

Living net Zero in South London

We are planning a free training event led by Jeremy Brackpool, who has been running courses for the past few years to help people in our local area to understand climate-change and their own power for good.

Duration: no more than 2 hours. Cost: free. Location: Ferndene Road. Date: tbc – in February

Please e mail me on [email protected] if you want to be added to the list.

SE24 and RAFT work with Diocese of Southwark – on school solar and LED feasibility assessments

SE24 and RAFT work with Diocese of Southwark – on school solar and LED feasibility assessments

On behalf of Retrofit Action for Tomorrow (RAFT:, SE24 is working with our preferred contactors Joju Solar and SELCE to carry out 14 solar PV and 5 LED lighting feasibility assessments at schools belonging to the Church of England’s Southwark Diocese

This work is part of a larger RAFT project for the Diocese which is financed by a grant from the Low Carbon Skills Fund.

One early project has been examining the feasability of installing solar PV panels at Dulwich Hamlet Junior School. 14 other sites are being investigating throughout the diocese which extends well down in Sussex. The team msot recently visited St Bede’s School in Redhill.

LED lighting surveys in Southwark

LED lighting surveys in Southwark

Following the successful completion of LED projects at Charles Dickens Primary, Charter School North Dulwich (both in 2021) and Goodrich Community Primary School in 2022 (see post here) SE24 are now surveying other schools in Southwark to see if they can benefit in the same way.

We received two London Community Energy Fund grants worth £13,500 in total, to survey six Southwark schools or community buildings working closely with Southwark Council. This opportunity is open to all schools in the Borough. If you want a survey contact [email protected]

These projects have been carried out in partnership with our neighbouring community energy group SELCE, and has engaged a number of SE24’s own volunteers who took part in SELCE training before their site visits.

“I really enjoyed the two days with Lawrence and Nadia at Ark Globe Academy. It is a huge site so it was good to be working alongside the SELCE professionals. The Retrolux software takes a bit of getting used to, but we soon got in the swing of it and learned just how many different lighting systems there are out there. It has certainly increased my own awareness of how much can be saved in the long term by switching to LED, so much so that I have been through my own home and switched to LED bulbs throughout! It is rewarding to know that by giving a little time now and then we can do our own little bit for the planet and hopefully help schools and others save financially and put those saved funds to better use.”

SE24 member and LED lighting survey volunteer Mark Dixon

“I wanted to volunteer to help with the LED surveys for several reasons – firstly that in the era of climate change, I feel it is very important to conserve energy, and these surveys are one way to help with this, as well as helping the organisations to lower their bills.  I also have a keen interest in physics (I have a degree in microelectronics), so this subject is one in which I have a personal interest.  During the survey, I enjoyed the chance to help in a practical way; Lawrence and Nadia were very welcoming and helped me to learn quickly about how to recognise different types of light fittings and bulbs, and how to enter the details using the software, and I feel inspired to assist on future ones whenever this is possible”

SE24 lighting survey volunteer, Carol

SE24 complete LED installation at Goodrich Primary School, East Dulwich

SE24 complete LED installation at Goodrich Primary School, East Dulwich

In October 2022, we completed installing LED lighting at Goodrich Community Primary School in East Dulwich, London SE22.

A total of 465 lamps/fittings were replaced with efficient LEDs throughout the school.  

SE24 delivered this project in partnership with South East London Community Energy (SELCE) and our installation contractor was the EES Group.  

As well as a one-third capital grant from the GLA’s London Community Energy Fund, the school’s PTA (Friends of Goodrich) made a substantial contribution towards the project cost.

We estimate that this LED installation will save the school over £15,000 in electricity costs per year and avoid 12 tonnes of CO2 emissions eachyear.

“I’m delighted that SE24 and partners were able to complete all of the LED lighting installation so efficiently. It’s all looking brilliant (literally!) and couldn’t have been better timing for the school to be able to take advantage of the financial savings immediately.”

Eleanor Fawcett, Goodrich School Governor, Chair of the Premises Committee

Welcome to Dave Rinaldi – SE24 Volunteer Manager

Welcome to Dave Rinaldi – SE24 Volunteer Manager

SE24 is delighted to welcome our new Volunteer Manager, Dave Rinaldi.

Dave lives in Southwark, and has over 16 years experience in the charity sector as a Volunteering Coordinator and Manager, and Project Manager. He also has 4 years of experience as a volunteer Community Mediator, helping neighbours in dispute to resolve their differences through empathic talking and listening and practical problem solving, to help the parties in dispute to come up with solutions that meet the needs of them both.

He currently works 4 days a week at a community centre in Rotherhithe, South London, alongside his 1 day a week at SE24. He enjoys working at a community and neighborhood level, and is keen to support SE24’s work to bring local people together to take positive, practical action to tackle the climate crisis.

Dave’s initial focus will be on exploring ways that volunteers can support SE24’s work by:

  • helping with lighting surveys for our LED project (see role profile here)
  • delivering climate education and engagement work in local schools, and
  • helping to run our fuel poverty campaign to encourage those in receipt of Winter Fuel Payments, who can afford to, to donate some or all of it to a community fund, which will be re-distributed to local people who are in fuel poverty.

If you would like to get involved in any of these 3 areas (or to give your time to support SE24 in other ways) then please get in touch with Dave, on [email protected]. He’d love to hear from you.

Please bear with us though, as Dave works at SE24 for one day a week (usually on Fridays), so he may take some time to get back to you: this does not mean we are not keen to have you on board.”

Local Electricity Bill and the Smart Export Guarantee

Local Electricity Bill and the Smart Export Guarantee

Amidst all the current turmoil in the energy markets and the new government’s proposals regarding energy security, we contiune to keep sight of the longer term legislative changesthat mighthelp community energy groups. Here is our submission to our MP Helen Hayes on the Local Electricity Bill and the Smart Export Guarantee and Helen’s supportive reply.

SE24 completes three new community energy projects

SE24 completes three new community energy projects

Thanks to support from Commmunity Energy London and over 50 local investors SE24 has now completed the installation of over 300 solar PV panels and over 1000 new LED light fittings to transform two schools in the Charter Educational Trust: Charter School, North Dulwich and Charles Dickens Primary School, Borough.

These projects will significantly reduce the schools’ energy bills and their carbon footprint.

Part of the solar panel array at Charter School, North Dulwich