Notes from Amsterdam on the London Infrastructure Advisory Panel

Managing Director Mike Reynolds brings Vattenfall's infrastructure expertise to the new Mayor’s London Infrastructure Advisory Panel.

It is a wet day in Amsterdam, and we are hosting clients from the UK to figuratively and literally walk them through this beautiful city, showing how we have worked in partnership to roll district heating out to 20% of the city over a 20 year period.

Amsterdam is close to London – when you find a high vantage point it almost feels as if you can see the turbines from our Thanet Wind Farm just east of London outside of the Thames Estuary. There is much we can and need to learn from our friends across the water, if we want to secure a zero-carbon infrastructure in the UK within the next 30 years.

Amsterdam also has some enviable infrastructure: the largest EV charging network in Northern Europe, superb bike routes (but watch where you walk), a power network that is getting smarter every year, and a district heating network providing heat to 180,000 people with a 60% lower climate impact than if those people had gas boilers in their homes.

Yet Amsterdam is a city less than one tenth the size of London.

I'm delighted to be part of the 40+ advisors to the Mayor of London on Infrastructure Planning.

In a week when we secured an exciting partnership to deliver low carbon, low cost heat to the communities of Midlothian and Edinburgh through an innovative Joint Venture Structure with the city, it was also a great week for me to join the new Mayor’s London Infrastructure Advisory Panel. This panel complements the Mayor’s London Infrastructure Group, and will be supporting the Mayor by:

  • constructively challenging and supporting the London Infrastructure Group and the Greater London Authority’s infrastructure work;
  • contributing innovative thinking and recommendations in relation to London’s infrastructure delivery and coordination challenges;
  • providing advice on cross-cutting and sector-specific issues, including data, innovation, resilience, regulation, financing and funding of infrastructure;
  • ensuring that infrastructure policy and delivery continues to cater to and account for London’s diversity;
  • inspiring others by celebrating the highly skilled but often under-represented women and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) professionals in this space.

The new Mayor of London's Infrastructure Advisory Panel

I love London. It has always held a special place in my heart as a diverse, bustling and pulsing metropolis, and we often don’t make our lives easy with our approach to infrastructure planning. 33 boroughs, 10 million people, and millions of commuters every day make the challenge of running this city a formidable one.

Against that backdrop I am absolutely delighted to be part of the 40 or so advisors to the Mayor on Infrastructure Planning. ‘Joined up thinking’ may be an overly-used phrase in our market, but I believe this forum could truly be the way to achieve it and deliver for our people.

We need to decarbonise. We need to address staggering challenges with air quality. We need to introduce new infrastructure like district heating and electric vehicle charging into already congested cityscapes. We need to  create level playing fields with other utilities.

And we need to do all of these things faster than we have ever done new infrastructure, and with more funding than has ever been used before.

To do this will take some honest, frank and difficult conversations. Planning infrastructure can be about more than just talking to each other about where we dig holes. It can be about efficient, whole system design of the energy system. It can be about using a heat network as a giant battery in the heart of our city, providing grid response services and helping the network operators reduce the capital investment needed on grid resilience and divert more capital to smart innovations. It can be about a step change in the value delivered by this infrastructure from a world of pipes, wires, Mega-Watts, Gigabytes and litres to comfort, warmth, ease of use, and a better quality of life.

There was a bristling energy in the group convened by the brilliant and inspiring Madalina Ursu at the GLA. I really hope we can harness it, and that in 10 years I will be hosting visitors from around the world in London, to show how Vattenfall has worked in close partnership with others to deliver a transformation in city infrastructure and services.


Press Release: Mayor to lead drive to boost diversity and inclusion in infrastructure
More information: Infrastructure Advisory Panel
Related: New London Infrastructure Advisory Panel (The ADE)

See also

“Heat network projects present lifelong career opportunities”, Paul Steen tells the Scotsman

Our Head of Business Development (North) has written an insightful article for The Scotsman, addressing the critical need to bridge the skills gap to achieve net zero in Scotland. 

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Heat networks are investment opportunity ‘worth billions’ says Jenny Curtis in new article from PA media.

Vattenfall has been featured by PA Media, citing the investment opportunity presented by heat networks.

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Unleashing the potential of district heating through progressive partnerships

Building on our long-term partnership with Bristol, as well as current district heating partnerships in London and Midlothian, we are ready to collaborate with other progressive cities to un...

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