Welsh Government have committed to a major programme of local area energy planning (LAEP) roll-out, so that every part of Wales will have a plan.
Energy Systems Catapult achieved a major strategic contract with Welsh Government when it was appointed to act as Technical Adviser for the roll-out of LAEP to local authorities. The Catapult will provide oversight, steering and assurance for the LAEPs produced by other consultants.
The Welsh Government has a Net Zero target of 2050. The challenge? Coordinating a centralised framework for the delivery of a national Welsh LAEP programme while considering the cost implications for local authorities.
The Catapult is committed to the creation of a market for the consistent delivery of LAEPs. With so many LAEPs required to achieve our collective Net Zero ambitions, this programme has afforded the Catapult an opportunity to support other consultants as they drive forward LAEPs across Wales.
The Catapult’s relationship with Welsh Government goes back to 2015, when Bridgend County Borough Council became one of the first three local authorities to have a LAEP delivered.
Owing to the positive impact realised locally, the Catapult was commissioned to deliver a refresh of the LAEP in 2021, incorporating government Net Zero policy by 2050, the phasing out of new fossil fuel vehicle sales by 2030, and new low carbon projects that are underway within Bridgend.
The Catapult has evolved from producing local area energy plans for local authorities within Wales, to overseeing the production of LAEPs by other consultants in accordance with the Guidance on Creating Local Area Energy Plans. This guidance has helped to establish the market for LAEPs, attracting private sector participation.
Energy Systems Catapult is engaging with all Welsh local authorities through the creation, management and chairing of a Welsh Local Authority Forum that is attended by all 22 authorities as well as the other consultants. The Catapult also manages and chairs the National Advisory Group made up of:
Department of Energy Security and Net Zero,
representatives of each of the four regions,
National Grid Electricity Distribution,
National Grid Transmission,
SP Energy Networks,
and Wales & West Utilities.
Through these channels, the Catapult can steer the delivery of LAEPs in accordance with the guidance across the whole of Wales.
The Catapult assists with knowledge gaps and adjusts the level of support required by the individual needs of the geographic areas. This approach creates a levelling-up across regions, ensuring the transfer of knowledge and skills to deliver high-quality LAEPs owned by the local authorities.
Once the supply of all LAEPs has been completed (target date is March 2024) Energy Systems Catapult will work with Welsh Government to aggregate all 22 LAEPs to support the creation of a National Energy Plan based on a ‘bottom-up’ approach balanced with ‘top down’ evidence.
As Technical Advisers to a national government, the Catapult has been afforded its first opportunity to become a pinnacle actor for work that underpins its belief in place-based planning and action to achieve local and national energy decarbonisation objectives.
Energy Systems Catapult will help to ensure that LAEPs delivered by other consultants are developed to a defined set of requirements, promote consistency and quality, and will compare and aggregate plans across a wider area. As well as giving the customers of LAEPs confidence in the standard of delivery, investors will also be encouraged by the consistent, comparable plans, whose investment requirements can be aggregated and scaled across large volumes.
The Catapult has delivered a core objective of creating a successful market for innovative methodologies that it has developed. Welsh Government now see local energy planning as the ‘placed-based’ foundation of their Net Zero objectives. As a result, Ministers agreed to fund the roll-out to all the remaining local authorities, as well as embedding the whole systems approach of local area energy planning in Welsh planning policy.
The Catapult is working with a wide range of LAEP stakeholders in Wales to ensure the growth of skills and capability across the Welsh local authorities through support and development. This will ensure the future of LAEP in Wales and ultimately advance the Net Zero Wales targets. As a result of this work Welsh Government is not only funding each of the LAEPs but has also funded LAEP support teams in each of the four regions. The Catapult has already hosted workshops which have introduced LAEP, data requirements and scenario options, supporting greater knowledge, data availability, existing Net Zero work and resources.
Local Area Energy Planning in Wales
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