Monday Motivation in Manchester! - Andrew Clark

Comment by Andrew Clark, Business Leader – Place at Energy Systems Catapult.

A cracking way to begin the week was spending the day in Salford Quays at the sixth Greater Manchester Green Summit, alongside colleagues from Energy Systems Catapult as sponsors of the event. The brilliant Lowry Theatre hosted us for the day to hear wide ranging presentations, panels, and updates on the region’s progress towards the ambition of 2038 carbon neutrality.


Figure 1: (L to R) Chris Brierley, Senior Impact & Engagement Advisor, Tim German, Senior Strategic Relationship Manager, Andrew Clark, Business Leader – Place.

I’d keenly anticipated attending my first Green Summit as a chance to get immersed in, and learn from, a place tackling the daunting challenge of Net Zero head on. I was not disappointed. During the day, the critical challenges local places face, and the impactful levers to be designed and pulled to enable progress, were brought into sharp focus.

For any place with an ambitious Net Zero goal, a key early challenge is knowing ‘what’ to do to make progress.

Greater Manchester’s approach is underpinned by detailed plans which give shape to the journey ahead, and the opportunities and challenges to be grasped. As well as the region’s 5-year Environment Plan (due to be refreshed at next year’s Summit), Greater Manchester was the UK’s first region to undertake Local Area Energy Plans for each of its districts.


Figure 2: Andrew Clark, Business Leader – Place.

The Catapult is a proud supporter of Greater Manchester’s journey to carbon neutrality, having delivered these Plans in 2022. It was brilliant to hear them referred to in the Mayor Andy Burnham’s opening remarks and throughout the day as a critical enabler in Manchester’s journey. The LAEPs have identified an additional investment need of £12bn beyond business as usual, for a portfolio of energy projects to deliver the carbon neutrality goal at best cost, and in time.

The Mayor detailed how projects to deliver on some of this £12bn will be brought to market soon, including district heat, generation and storage, public sector decarbonisation and social housing retrofit. Being able to articulate the size of the prize, specific projects, where and when, felt like a huge catalyst of progress which allows the public sector to leverage the interest, investment, and agility of the private sector to help deliver.

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Decarbonising Greater Manchester.

This leads into the next question of ‘how’ to move plans into action, where Manchester is making huge and informed strides. I believe this is where some of the most pressing answers and solutions need to be unearthed for some big challenges. With over 1 in 6 Local Authorities in the UK pursuing Local Area Energy Plans, the potential for huge investment and scaled delivery of projects is being identified.

However, work is needed to understand how best to mobilise investment in these projects, across different technology and asset types, with different challenges in terms of consumer acceptance, and different risks and opportunities for stakeholders, funders and investors.

We’ve been really excited this week to follow up the Green Summit by publishing the report from the Unlocking Cleaner Energy In Greater Manchester (UCEGM) project. Through UCEGM the Catapult has helped explore different commercial and business models for local authorities to support large scale deployment of renewable energy projects. Resulting in nearly 10MW of new capacity being commissioned in Greater Manchester, UCEGM will help arm Local Authorities with some of the answers they need to press on with projects.

As the sixth Green Summit, it was obvious this regular drumbeat through which stakeholders are brought together, progress is reviewed, and the agenda reset and restated, is a critical foundation of progress. The challenge is huge, but progress can be made, and is being made. We must proactively work together, there is more to do but it can be done.

The tone of the day was one of inclusivity, with representation from organisations and citizens alike. It was clear that there is a steadfast ambition in the drive towards the goal of carbon neutrality, and I for one walked away with some Monday motivation from Manchester!

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Local Area Energy Planning: The Time and Place is Now

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We empower and advise Local Authorities, Network Operators, and Central and Devolved Governments to take Net Zero action, mobilising the plans, projects, processes and partners you need to decarbonise local areas.

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