Unlocking Clean Energy in Greater Manchester (UCEGM)

Greater Manchester Combined Authority declared a climate emergency in 2019 and launched its 5-year Environment Plan, which sets out a long-term environmental vision to be carbon neutral by 2038 and the urgent actions that need to be taken in the next 5 years to help achieve this.

The Unlocking Clean Energy in Greater Manchester (UCEGM) Project was conceived of as part of this vision. UCEGM is a pioneering project that has delivered a number of renewable schemes across the Greater Manchester city region and has created a blueprint that can be replicated in other regions across the UK aiming for Net Zero carbon emissions.

Energy Systems Catapult, in partnership with five Greater Manchester local authorities – Manchester, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport and Wigan – secured £8.6m from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to deliver the project.

The opportunity 

The three-year, £17.2m UCEGM project delivered and implemented actions and priorities from the Local Industrial Strategy and the Manchester Combined Authority Five-Year Environment Plan, and contributed towards the 2024 goals set out within the Whole System Smart Energy Plan for Greater Manchester.

UCEGM aims to contribute 22% of the renewable energy generation target set out in the 5-year plan as a step towards the region’s aspiration to be carbon neutral by 2038.

The project

UCEGM was split into two workstreams:

  1. The first workstream was focused on delivering renewable energy schemes across Greater Manchester.
  2. The second workstream was focused on developing routes to market for further projects that will be less reliant on grant funding.

Workstream 1

Workstream 1 capitalised on under-utilised council-owned sites and buildings, to develop:

Target outputs

  • Generating electricity locally to reduce long-term costs for local authorities.
  • 10 MW new renewable energy generation capacity – 22% of 2024 target for new capacity in Greater Manchester.
  • 8,881 MWh annual generation of clean electricity from renewable sources.
  • 3,134 tCO2 annual reduction in carbon emissions across Greater Manchester.

Workstream 2

The aim of Workstream 2 was to create a stronger business case for investment to help bring forward more projects in the future with less reliance on grant funding.

To do this, the Catapult worked with partners in Greater Manchester to

  • Develop and test outline business model approaches,
  • Assess costs, benefits, risks, opportunities,
  • Design and validate business model in detail for most promising option(s), and
  • Support adoption of the model.

The commercial model has been developed using funding and information provided by Workstream 2. This tool can be used by renewable energy project developers as well as large energy consumers willing to procure renewable energy, to assess the economic sustainability of solar photovoltaics installations. Users without any technical or financial background can perform a financial assessment of a solar project and quickly generate results, in a pdf or CSV (Excel) format, to be shared with other colleagues and partners.

Download the Financial Modelling Tool

This tool can be used by renewable energy project developers as well as large energy consumers willing to procure renewable energy, to assess the economic sustainability of solar photovoltaics installations.

Download the Guidance Document

The following guideline provides a practical explanation of how to use the Financial modelling tool built for the project Unlocking Clean Energy for Greater Manchester (UCEGM).


  • The UCEGM project has delivered – or is in the process of delivering – 15 renewable energy generation assets.
  • The project is delivering 10 MW of local, place-based renewable energy generation.
  • The project has been a central pillar in the 5-year Greater Manchester Environment Plan.
  • Energy Systems Catapult has developed a free-to-use tool that quickly assesses the economic sustainability of solar assets.
  • Provided detailed guidance for asset owners looking to deploy business models that could have a positive impact on their asset’s business case.

As an example of the work that is ongoing in the region, Manchester City Council recently completed a £2.9m project to install solar car ports at the National Cycling Centre. These car ports provide shelter for vehicles, whilst generating power from solar panels installed on top.

Download the report

Improving the business case for local renewable energy projects in the current market and under future market scenarios

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How can Local Councils fund renewable energy (eg. solar at National Cycling Centre in Manchester)?

Additional tools and reports

Click here to access our report page with additional downloadable reports including 'Detailed Design of Short Term Renewable Generation Business Models', 'Energy market modelling', and more.

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European Regional Development Fund

The project is receiving up to £8,616,721 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund.

Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit: European Growth Funding.

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