It has been eight years since EDF pledged its support to London 2012 by becoming the first commercial partner of the bid at a time few people thought London could win. I have been privileged to be involved from the very start.
It has already been a unique and special experience for all of us involved, but with the Torch Relay underway and our pavilion on the Olympic Park completed ready for the Games, the anticipation and excitement is really building. From the very beginning EDF has recognised the potential for London 2012 to be a catalyst for connecting with people and helping us engage them in doing their bit for a lower carbon future in ways that probably would have been impossible without the Games.
At the heart of our approach is low-carbon electricity and our supply package for the Games. We have guaranteed that for each unit of mains electricity used on the Olympic Park, we will provide a unit generated from low-carbon sources to the national grid. Eighty per cent will come from EDF's existing nuclear fleet, with the remaining 20 per cent coming from renewable generation assets. The point of this is to encourage customers to differentiate between the different sources of electricity production.
We are also using some of London's greatest icons to reinforce this point. We are supplying the EDF Energy London Eye (pictuerd below) and Tower Bridge with electricity matched by units of low-carbon electricity.
One of the high points of our 2012 programme so far came at the end of May, standing at the top of City Hall looking at Tower Bridge and seeing the first of a series of light shows made possible by our project. With our fellow London 2012 partners General Electric (GE), the City of London and the Greater London Authority, we have enabled installation of state of the art energy-efficient LED lighting. The lighting is computer-controlled and will leave a long-term legacy for the City of London while ensuring Tower Bridge can play a starring role in London's celebrations during Games time.
These famous landmarks and some of the main venues on the Olympic Park will also benefit from our real time venue energy monitoring systems. This new technology allows energy managers at these sites to view electricity use at different sites in real time in a way that really brings it to life.
The idea of showing how the intelligent use of technology can help us all take control of our energy use is behind some other things we are doing for the Games.
For example, EDF is working with Transport for London, LOCOG, GE and BMW to install 120 new charging points (pictured above) to support the electric cars that will be in the Olympic car fleet. The EDF R&D team provided the technical guidance on how the new systems could be set up without destabilising local electricity networks. As part of the project we have simultaneously charged 40 vehicles in a single location, which is the largest trial we have ever seen anywhere in the world. Our experience in this will certainly help with the roll out of electric vehicles for fleet use in the future and the new charging points will stay in legacy.
Achieving our goal of using our association with London 2012 to help tackle climate change also means encouraging people to change how they use energy. Back in 2009 we launched Team Green Britain (pictured below): a community galvanised to work together to help the environment by taking personal action to reduce their carbon footprint. We now have over one million members.
Our nationwide programme for Greener Schools, The Pod, part of London 2012's Get Set programme, has been a huge success. Since the initiative was launched in 2008, 6.5 million schoolchildren have used resources from the programme. With so many involved we are leaving a whole generation of young people who are better informed about sustainability.
However, the Games is first and foremost about sport. The EDF Community Rowing Challenge provided 40 pupils from schools in East London with training from top-class coaches and former athletes, culminating in a race on the Olympic course at Dorney Lake. It was a pleasure to see the passion of the young people who took part and to witness their inspiration by Olympic rowing legend Sir Steve Redgrave and London 2012 medal hopeful Katherine Grainger. As well as sporting proficiencies these youngsters have taken away skills in areas such as teamwork and communication which will serve them well in future.
EDF has been working closely with the British Paralympic Association over the past two years to help it become a greener team. This has focused on reducing the carbon footprint of ParalympicsGB's preparation camp in Bath, with last year's event becoming the first of its kind to be accredited by the Council for Responsible Sport. We also made ParalympicsGB our charity partner and our employees, supported by match-funding from the company, have so far raised £400,000.
It's been a busy, rewarding time for my team and our colleagues from across the EDF Group in the United Kingdom and internationally. With the Games upon us, we are now getting ready for the time of our lives, and to put our hard work and planning to the test.
But the work won't finish when the curtain comes down on the Games. Many of our projects support a positive legacy of sustainability and we are focused on making sure that London 2012 will continue to be a catalyst for a lower carbon future even when our project ends.
Gareth Wynn is the London 2012 programme director for EDF Energy, the Official Electricity Supplier and Official Partner of London 2012.