Edinburgh and South East City Region LEAR makes investment case for decarbonisation

The Edinburgh and South East City Region partnership recognised the importance of Energy Systems Catapult’s pioneering Local Energy Asset Representation (LEAR) tool as a crucial component within a comprehensive Energy masterplan for the region. The partnership has set its sights on achieving Net Zero emissions by 2030.

The LEAR tool offered a thorough understanding of the region’s current energy infrastructure whilst providing the foundation for local authorities to liaise with network operators, planners, and project developers to better coordinate the region’s decarbonisation journey. Sitting alongside the region’s Local Heat and Energy Efficiency Strategies (LHEES) the LEAR provides the first stages of a more detailed Local Area Energy Plan (a whole energy system framework for achieving Net Zero) should the authorities of Edinburgh and South East City Region require.

The Innovation

A LEAR was conducted across five districts: Edinburgh, East Lothian, Midlothian, West Lothian, and Fife. This area covers 24% of Scotland’s population. It delivered the Edinburgh and South East City Region Partnership with an output report providing a visual representation of the energy system across all districts. The report incorporated placed-based data, detailed maps of existing energy assets, and planned renewable projects across the districts.

The Challenge

The Edinburgh and South East city region collectively align with the UK Government’s pledge to achieve Net Zero emissions by 2050. It is also seen as a valuable step towards the region’s alignment with Scottish Government’s target of achieving Net Zero by 2045. Notably, a pivotal aspect of realising Net Zero emissions throughout the entire area involves strategic deliberation and execution of energy initiatives spanning the broader region. These initiatives strive to cater to local necessities like alleviating fuel poverty.

The five regions included in the LEAR encompass a total land area of 1,186 square miles, accommodating a resident population of 1,291,040 individuals (mid-2021 statistics, Office of National Records of Scotland). Characterised by a mix of densely populated zones and expansive rural territories, the region faces distinct challenges in the implementation of decarbonisation initiatives.

The transition to a net zero energy system leading to…the development of local energy projects requires a detailed understanding of both place-based data and the current energy system in a particular region. Building a profile of a local area allows for local authorities to plan future projects more effectively, to avoid some of the challenges commonly faced during project development and to ensure that energy projects are targeted according to the needs of the local communities.

For this project, the local authorities involved aimed to integrate a dataset that was both familiar to them and more widely utilised in Scotland, provided by the Scotland Heat Map and the Home Analytics: Building a Unique Dataset, presenting a unique set of challenges.

Energy Systems Catapult modelling resources, therefore, had the opportunity to demonstrate their capacity to adapt effectively when incorporating alternative datasets, whilst these modelling assets showed their flexibility and robustness by generating insights when utilising both third-party and Energy Systems Catapult datasets within a single project. This dual formatting serves as a contingency measure in case the client encounters difficulties in supplying Home Analytics data for specific regions within the project area.

This exercise is pivotal in demonstrating the versatility of Energy Systems Catapult modelling both for future Scotland LEARs and LAEPs (Local Area Energy Plans), and any other projects aiming to integrate distinct or specialised datasets. Success here, in turn, creates new avenues for Energy Systems Catapult local modelling tools, expands their potential, and opens further opportunities.

The Solution

Energy Systems Catapult developed the LEAR modelling tool as the first step on the roadmap to a wider Local Area Energy Plan to orchestrate forthcoming energy scenarios for the region, delineating the optimal and most cost-effective pathways towards achieving Net Zero emissions.

The LEAR is is a high level in-depth representation of what is present… in relation to the energy system across the regions covered by the project, providing many key benefits for an area including:

  • Representation of fundamental building attributes across the entire region including type of dwelling, type of heating system in use, amount of insulation, type of wall construction, and glazing of windows. This information reflects real local building stock, providing an evidence base and starting point ensuring that analysis is most relevant to the area, and crucially it enables the local authority to target interventions most effectively.
  • Visual mapping of point source emissions across an entire region by sector aiding local authorities in prioritising decarbonisation projects, facilitating collaboration with business and industry to collectively target mitigation measures, and offering the potential to channel waste heat from industrial sites to supply low carbon heating for residential properties.
  • Mapping domestic electricity and gas demand at Lower Layer Super Output Area / Data Zone level to enable targeted interventions by local authorities of regions suitable for wider scale projects such as low carbon district heating. The success of which relies on a substantial heating demand to ensure economic viability. Figure 1. Displays Scotland Heat Map Demand Density against Energy Systems Catapult’s Modelled Demand Density in Edinburgh and West Lothian whilst Figure 2 displays the peak total electricity and gas demands for these areas.
  • Mapping of low voltage and high voltage substation capacity and demands to provide an understanding of potential network constraints across a region, essential to energy project planning. Roll out of low carbon technologies such as solar PV and heat pumps require ample capacity within the electrical network. By visually representing substation capacities across an area, local authorities can avert the allocation of development costs into projects that later require significant grid re-enforcement or become unfeasible due to network constraints It can also help planning around clustering projects with new generation at a sub station level.
  • Visual analysis of fuel poverty and deprivation. Scottish Government has a target of achieving less than 5% of households will be in fuel poverty by 2040. LEAR utilises national datasets to visualise deprivation and fuel poverty across an area. When layered with Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) ratings and property type this allows local authorities to more target pilot projects to lower heat cost through low carbon solutions.

Furthermore, the Catapult successfully addressed the distinct challenges introduced in this project, thereby showcasing the adaptability, flexibility, resilience, and potential of the Catapult’s modelling resources.


The LEAR produced a single assessment for the regional Local Authorities to feed into a review of the LHEES analysis to identify opportunities for further regional collaboration. These might include an investment prospectus for commercial opportunities. The LEAR was beneficial for the Network Operators who seek information on a pipeline of clustered investments to align their investment plans.

Client Testimonial

“Energy Systems Catapult’s LEAR added value to regional discussions on a Regional Energy Masterplan to support the Regional Prosperity Frameworks’ ambitions of Green Regeneration; Infrastructure for Recovery and Prosperity; Visitor Economy and Culture; and Data Driven Innovation (DDI) Economy. These programmes will enable the city region to deliver sustainable and inclusive growth. The LEAR strengthened regional collaboration – both around the data sharing processes, the modelling and the output – not just with the Councils but also Network operators.” – Hugh Muschamp, Lead Officer (Climate Change & Zero Waste) at Fife Council.

Get in touch

Speak to Morag Millar, Strategic Growth & City Deals Programme Manager at Fife Council, to get their thoughts on the LEAR process.

Contact Fife Council

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