Six Steps to Zero Carbon Buildings – Step 2: Rolling out Local Area Energy Planning

Published: 30 July 2020

Energy Systems Catapult set out our current thinking on policies for decarbonising buildings over the next two decades in ‘Six steps to zero carbon buildings’ and the accompanying ‘Towards an enduring policy framework to decarbonise buildings’.

This is the second in a series of six policy briefs providing further detail on each of the six steps.

Key points

This policy brief sets out the case for rolling out a new approach to whole system Local Area Energy Planning (LAEP) across the UK over the next five years, as part of an ongoing programme to support the achievement of Net Zero emissions targets and the decarbonisation of not only buildings, but also mobility and other sectors.

It builds on previous work conducted by ESC in developing the LAEP concept, and new best practice guidance for LAEPs developed by Centre for Sustainable Energy and Energy System Catapult for Ofgem, which can be downloaded here.

Our vision for Local Area Energy Planning:

  • Establishing transparent industry-wide processes and analytical frameworks for the development of Local Area Energy Plans in line with methodology guidance developed by ESC and the Centre for Sustainable Energy for Ofgem.
  • Funding and delivering a trial cohort of LAEP exercises across a representative cross-section of selected Local Authorities and network companies in the next 12-24 months.
  • Investment in local governments’ capacity and resources to support sustainable energy transition and LAEP implementation, supported by evolution of the planning system and local authority responsibilities and statutory powers.
  • Embedding LAEP processes in business planning frameworks for network operators as part of RIIIO-2 and heat network regulation in future to help address coordination challenges linked to transport and heat decarbonisation.
  • Ongoing roll-out across England and Wales, and alignment with Local Heat and Energy Efficiency Strategies (LHHES) in Scotland, completed as soon as practicable in the mid-2020s, and subject to periodic monitoring and review (e.g. 5-year cycles).
  • Integrated with regional and national policy through coordinated processes – via regional bodies, devolved administrations and central government – to support integrated planning around strategic infrastructure choices (e.g. hydrogen, industry clusters)

Local Area Energy Planning can play a key role in supporting decarbonisation by allowing coordination of investment in energy infrastructure, including low-carbon heat and transport technologies. It can serve to build credible evidence base around which to begin meaningful engagement and dialogue with local citizens and stakeholders about potential pathways to achieve decarbonisation objectives.