Collaborating with Peterborough City Council to develop a Local Area Energy Plan

Peterborough City Council declared a climate emergency in 2019 and has made tackling climate change a priority. In response, Peterborough City Council worked with Energy Systems Catapult to develop a Local Area Energy Plan (LAEP) to deliver a comprehensive, data-driven, and cost-effective plan for decarbonisation of the whole energy system.

The LAEP – which covers 70% of all emissions generated in Peterborough – evaluates the current and future energy demands of the city, considering electricity demand, heating demand, retrofitting buildings for energy efficiency and electric vehicle charging demand to produce a plan to get to Net Zero carbon.

The Challenge

Having declared a climate emergency in 2019, Peterborough City Council joined the more than 80% of local authorities in the UK who have committed to reducing their carbon emissions in the pursuit of Net Zero. Many of those local authorities are targeting Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050. Peterborough City Council, however, is pursuing a more ambitious target.

Energy Systems Catapult helps local places build robust strategies to navigate to Net Zero, with our pioneering approach to Local Area Energy Planning. A LAEP aims to define the extent of the transformation required to transition an area’s energy system to Net Zero in a given timeframe.

This is achieved by an exploration of potential pathways that considers a range of technologies and scenarios, and when combined with stakeholder engagement leads to the identification of the most cost-effective preferred pathway and a sequenced plan of proposed actions to achieving an area’s Net Zero goal. The scope of the LAEP covers the current energy consumption as well as the carbon savings.

The Innovation

The LAEP was developed as part of the Prospering from the Energy Revolution challenge through UK Research & Innovation, which chose Peterborough as one of the first cities to develop its own plan. With the City Council endorsing the LAEP in December 2022, Peterborough became one of the first cities to adopt a Local Area Energy Plan, positioning the city as a UK leader in the transition to Net Zero.

Peterborough was divided into ten zones based on areas served by primary electricity substations, rather than any political or geographical boundary. Dividing Peterborough into ten zones was necessary owing to the distinctions between urban/rural and commercial/residential areas that require different decarbonisation solutions.

The LAEP demonstrated that meeting a Net Zero target of 2040 would require investment of £8.8 billion into Peterborough. The forecast investment required is the total capital costs of the whole energy system (including domestic heating, insulation, networks etc.). Investment would most likely come from a combination of private investment, residential home upgrades, and government grants. The LAEP has afforded Peterborough City Council an opportunity to identify potential projects in need of financing. This project identification will inform the Council’s decisions on where to focus public and private investment to best meet their decarbonisation efforts.

The Council has kept the development of the LAEP open and transparent and has held a workshop with local stakeholders to discuss the report’s findings, the solutions to any barriers which may exist and to explore potential projects. The stakeholder group will lead the delivery of the LAEP through the development of viable business cases and unlocking investment.

The Solution

Our market leading EnergyPath® Networks (EPN) tool was used to help create the LAEP. EPN models the unique characteristics of the local area, including: the type of building stock, heating technologies, existing energy networks, electrification of cars, as well as local spatial constraints and opportunities.

Through the LAEP process Energy Systems Catapult collaborates with a range of stakeholders including local authorities, distribution network operators, businesses, and communities to create a plan for a data-driven, cost-effective low carbon transition. The findings and conclusions reached by the LAEP will be used by Peterborough City Council to develop its City-Wide Climate Change Action Plan. The base line of the current and projected energy demands of the city included within the LAEP will be used to demonstrate the scale of the challenges and highlight any areas which need urgent and significant activity to decarbonise.

Energy Systems Catapult has used the findings of the Peterborough LAEP, and others, to create its Guidance on Creating a Local Area Energy Plan. The guidance is aimed at local government organisations who are looking to create a plan to help them meet their net zero goals and climate emergency declarations. This guidance is now becoming widely used to guide creation of LAEPs across the country.

Next Steps

Following the development of the Peterborough LAEP, as part of the same PfER programme, Energy Systems Catapult oversaw the development of two LAEPs by other contractors to build real-world experience in the wider local authority market. Arup and Buro Happold were selected to undertake these LAEPs: one for Pembrokeshire and the other covering the local authorities of Lichfield, Stafford and Cannock Chase in Staffordshire.

Peterborough City Council, Executive Director (Place & Economy), Adrian Chapman said:

“[The LAEP] will act as a blueprint for the positive and real change in our city that directly benefits existing residents and businesses, as well as future generations. “[Due to] the development of a Local Area Energy Plan…we have the best possible platform from which to deliver ambitious but vital net zero obligations and get it right first time”.

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Peterborough Local Area Energy Plan

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