Local authorities are at a disadvantage when it comes to delivering net zero. Although nearly 85% of UK councils have declared a climate emergency, they are reluctant to spend on carbon-cutting infrastructure projects because of squeezed budgets. While they search for ways to continue delivering essential services for less money, there are fewer resources available for net zero action. Funding constraints are the biggest barrier to progress for most councils, but there is also the more insidious problem of focus: while councils are busy dealing with immediate and urgent concerns, the long-term issue of the climate may receive less attention.
It's time to take control. Many councils have already implemented useful measures, from electric buses to solar panels on council houses. But making changes in isolation is not as effective as a planned, systemic approach. This is where Local Area Energy Planning (LAEP) comes in. It takes a whole-system approach to energy consumption and generation in your local authority area. With a methodology developed by Energy Systems Catapult and the Centre for Sustainable Energy, it can be a powerful driver for achieving your net zero goals.
Create a master plan
Your Local Area Energy Plan should cover all aspects of energy use in your area, which means looking at everything from building stock and transport to industrial processes. The initial plan doesn’t have to be detailed; it should be on the level of an outline or master plan. What needs to happen, and by when? Who should be in charge of it, and what will it cost? You will then need to do further work on the details of implementing individual projects within the plan.
LAEP also means making the big decisions on energy sourcing. It means deciding on the type and number of local generation assets. It means deciding on questions such as heat networks or battery storage. Here, the ENTRNCE Matcher can be a vital tool for understanding your region’s clean energy “score” is – and how you can improve it. This unique data platform provides data on exactly where your energy is coming from, in half-hourly increments. The granularity provided lets you see just how much energy is coming from local wind turbines on a still day as compared to a windy day, or from solar panels as the weather changes.
Crucially, the Matcher lets you gather this information before your local authority commits to the big decisions. Its simulation functionality lets you see how proposed clean energy solutions could work in practice for your local area. How would things look if you changed your power purchase agreement? Would emissions go up or down if you invested more in biomass and less in solar? The Matcher can provide answers based on your specific situation.
There is no “one size fits all” approach to local area energy planning, because every council is different. You can learn from the work of other local authorities, but there is no way to be sure that their successes will be replicated in your area. But the powerful modelling functionality of the Matcher lets you see exactly how various measures would work for your area. (It is the only technology platform that does this.)
At a time when every spending decision needs to be justified, even clean energy investments can feel like a budget risk. This may be why many councils are not on track for their own net zero deadlines. Clear data from the Matcher lets you build a strong case for your choices, so that you can get on with the work of decarbonising your local area.
The beauty of local area energy plans is that they aren’t set in stone. They develop in response to circumstances and the input of stakeholders. As well as helping you make the initial decisions, the Matcher can help you track the ongoing success of your energy plan. Then you can adjust course based on what the data is telling you.
We are happy to show you exactly how the ENTRNCE Matcher can inform your Local Area Energy Plan and get your area on track for net zero. For more information and to book a free demo, visit https://www.entrnce.com/public-sector