Lancaster LAEPs ahead on path to Net Zero

In 2019, Lancaster declared a climate emergency and set itself a target to make the whole district carbon neutral by 2030. The City Council has received £5.3 million from the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, to invest over the next three years in projects which improve the lives of local people and the economy and one of those projects highlighted by the authority is to get a Local Area Energy Plan (LAEP).

Energy Systems Catapult was chosen to help the city get its whole systems; evidence led roadmap – a LAEP in July 2023.

The Challenge

To deliver on Lancaster’s 2030 Net Zero goal the LAEP needs to consider all the activities that the district needs to do to help it decarbonise – this includes an outline of what projects and actions are required and how much it will cost.  From identifying the energy system to options to decarbonise buildings including the city’s council homes and offices.

A key benefit of any local area energy plan is that it helps to join up current plans and policies and the interdependencies these might have.  For example, in Lancaster’s case, considering how to transform its energy system, aligning with its Local Plan and informing key developments including: The Eden project, Morecambe, The Royal Lancaster Infirmary, a new garden village to the south of Lancaster, as well as working with outputs from the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy heat network zoning pilot amongst others.

The Innovation

The Catapult developed the concept of Local Area Energy Planning over 10 years ago so that a local area’s unique characteristics play a central role in defining what a places Net Zero transition looks like.

Lancaster wants a plan to help it support decarbonisation for both communities and businesses across its district.

Energy Systems Catapult have been leading the way on setting out the importance of taking a whole energy system approach which is evidenced based that also recognises that coordination is required across many factors (e.g. the energy system, the built environment and transport systems) and between many different stakeholders, to both achieve net zero cost-effectively, but also to ensure that it is locally led and considers local opportunities and benefits.

The result is a localised whole energy systems roadmap to decarbonisation which provides an evidence-based investment plan.

The Solution

The optimal pathway towards a future Net Zero energy system is governed by Energy Systems Catapult’s Local Area Energy Planning process. As part of this, the unique perspectives of the local area stakeholders are considered through an iterative and recurring process of robust stakeholder engagement.

Key to this solution is that through being collaborative it enables a coordinated transition towards an area becoming carbon neutral by an agreed target date.  Through combining local knowledge with data and modelling the end result as part of the wider report is a plan on a page highlight pathways and focus zones (for activity by component e.g., generation, energy network change, EV and other transport infrastructure, building fabric and heating systems etc.), this will also outline priority projects, investment breakdown, next steps and data sets to support project/implementation activity.


The main aim of the LAEP is “to establish a fully costed and spatial plan that identifies preferred combinations of technological and local energy system changes that can be made”, this will be done in a bespoke way based on the whole energy system characteristics and stakeholder engagement for Lancaster.

The local area energy plan will support the city’s vision for Lancaster district to thrive as a vibrant regional centre in the north west of England, because it will support the city in attracting investment by giving investors an evidence based plan.

Next Steps

The Local Area Energy Planning process has kicked off and delivery of the completed LAEP is expected by the late Spring of 2024.

Councillor Gina Dowding, cabinet member with responsibility for climate action, said: “The development of a LAEP is a major ambition for the city council, enabling us to lead climate action beyond the activities of the council.  I’m delighted that Energy Systems Catapult has been appointed to undertake this key piece of work.

“The end goal is to develop a whole energy system approach for the district that will establish how different energy sources can work together to deliver a net zero society.

“The City Council will need to collaborate closely with key local stakeholders such as Lancashire County Council, town and parish councils, Electricity North West, Cadent and many others.

“We look forward to developing a roadmap which is robust, practical, deliverable and stands the test of time.”

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