A toolkit to support Local Authorities deliver their climate emergency goals

Published: 4 January 2021

A local approach for energy is key to the UK transitioning to Net Zero and accelerating the green recovery.

Regional government and local authorities are central to making this happen. A group of 41 council leaders and city mayors recently signed the UK100 Net Zero Pledge and three quarters of all local authorities have declared climate emergencies, demonstrating their commitment and ambition.

Energy Systems Catapult is working with local authorities to understand what support is needed to help empower local ambitions and deliver on their Net Zero commitments.

The complex challenge of Net Zero

From our extensive interviews with council leaders and officers, there has been general agreement that understanding and communicating the value of integrating energy projects is highly challenging. This includes the wider co-benefits that these projects can realise, as well as evidencing the viability of new and complex business models.

“I want to develop a sustainable portfolio of projects that create revenue we can reinvest.”

Erica, Strategic Lead in a Local Authority

“I want to develop viable energy projects quickly using trusted sources of information to make a strong case to councillors.”

Pete, Sustainability Manager in a Local Authority

An example could be the development of a transport hub, including solar PV, wind turbines, electric vehicle charging points both for private and public use, and battery storage. By integrating and managing the assets effectively there could be potential to provide 100% local renewable energy to customers at lower cost with the addition of services to encourage users to take up more electric vehicles or public transport.

This type of project would require collaboration with network operators, various developers, the local community, and local authority departments including but not limited to planning, energy/sustainability, transport, and procurement.

A toolkit for local authorities

To provide support to these kinds of projects, Energy Systems Catapult is developing a toolkit that will provide simple, intuitive information to address the needs of local authorities. It will include case studies, templates, datasets and planning tools, relevant to a range of roles and departments within local authorities. The roadmap for what the toolkit will offer is outlined below:

Figure 1: Toolkit Roadmap

Despite the political commitment to net zero, there is no statutory duty on local authorities to prioritise energy and decarbonisation. By providing tools that enable council officers to understand and communicate the wider benefits that local energy projects can offer (such as addressing air quality, job creation, fuel poverty and local services), it’s anticipated that further interest and opportunities for energy-related projects will follow.

The toolkit aims to give confidence to local authorities, particularly those that lack skills and resources, to ensure they ask the right questions when contracting and scoping work in this area and are more aware of what has been achieved by others or what schemes they could get involved in with their neighbouring authorities.

Energy Systems Catapult is currently undertaking user interface prototype testing with the first version of the toolkit planned for in May 2021.

If you would like to join our Local Authority user group or get involved in the development of the toolkit, please register your interest HERE for more information.