Lincolnshire LEAR makes the case for investment in region-wide decarbonisation
In April 2021, Lincolnshire County Council declared its intent to be a carbon neutral authority by 2050. Its plan was to commit to reducing its 1990 carbon emissions by 68% by 2025, five years earlier than the UK Government’s target of 2030.
To help get on track and formulate a plan the council needed to understand what its current energy make up was. Step forward Energy Systems Catapult and its pioneering Local Energy Asset Representation (LEAR).
A LEAR provides the foundation for local authorities to liaise with network operators, planners, and project developers in a way that better co-ordinates a local area’s decarbonisation journey.
Lincolnshire County Council have adopted the UK Government’s commitment to reach Net Zero emissions by 2050. Key to achieving Net Zero emissions across the whole county is to consider the planning and implementation of local energy projects across the wider region that looks to additionally address local needs such as fuel poverty.
The administrative county of Lincolnshire comprises seven districts across a 2,687 square mile area and is home to a population of over 756,000 residents. The region is densely populated with large rural areas that pose potential challenges for decarbonisation measures to be implemented. There are several areas across the county that experience fuel poverty due to rurality and areas of deprivation across part of Lincolnshire’s coastline also contributing to this challenge.
Through the development and implementation of various Carbon Management Plans, the council has achieved significant CO2 reductions from its original 2005/6 baseline, through targeting a range of measures across its own operations and estates.
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 such as Lincolnshire County Council to plan future projects more effectively across the region, 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.
Energy Systems Catapult conducted a LEAR for three districts across Lincolnshire; West Lindsey, Lincoln and North Kesteven. The LEAR provided Lincolnshire County Council with an output report which visually represented the energy system across all three districts, incorporating both placed-based data and a detailed map of existing energy assets and planned renewable projects across the districts.
This proposal provides information on some of the national datasets that are used to create a LEAR report, highlights examples and outputs from other LEAR reports and provides an insight into how other local authorities have used the data.
Energy Systems Catapult developed the LEAR modelling tool as the first step on the roadmap to a wider Local Area Energy Plan (LAEP) which simulates future energy scenarios for the region and provides the most cost-effective pathway to achieving Net Zero emissions.
The key benefits of creating a LEAR report for an area include:
Visual mapping of point source emissions across an entire region by sector. This allows local authorities to prioritise decarbonisation projects, potentially collaborate with business and industry to target measures collectively and to potentially utilise waste heat from industrial sites to provide low carbon heating to homes.
Mapping domestic electricity and gas demand. Delivered at LSOA level, this allows local authorities to target areas for wider scale projects such as low carbon district heating which requires an anchor heating demand to be economically viable.
Map of low voltage and high voltage substation capacity and demands. An understanding of potential network constraints across an area is essential to energy project planning. Roll-out of low carbon technologies such as solar PV and heat pumps require sufficient capacity on the electrical network. By visualising substation capacity across an area, local authorities can avoid sinking development costs into projects that later require significant grid re-enforcement or can’t proceed due to network constraints.
Visual analysis of fuel poverty and deprivation. 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.
The Lincolnshire LEAR has already been used to help put together a County Devolution bid into central government. The work on EPCs has highlighted some areas where over 50% of the houses sold or leased had EPCs at the lower end of the scale thus helping the council to identify problems and help find solutions.
The report also helped the authority with discussions around roof mounted solar.
Dan Clayton, Sustainability Manager at Lincolnshire County Council:
“The LEAR report that [Energy Systems Catapult] produced was useful to provide data on EPC levels in housing around the Central Lincolnshire area. We have also used it in our discussions around roof mounted solar. It has helped to inform some of the discussions that we have been having around wider devolution in Greater Lincolnshire.”
LEAR: Local Energy Asset Representation | Energy Systems Modelling