Net Zero Living Pathfinders

The Innovate UK Net Zero Living Pathfinder (NZLP) programme aims to address non-technical barriers across the whole energy system including power, heat, mobility, product manufacture and usage. It’s a place led approach to see what’s hindering Net Zero progress in local areas and the Catapult is working with 5 different places across the UK as part of this programme. Key to this project is that the learning from each area can be replicated around the UK.

The Challenge

The Catapult supports local authorities to turn Net Zero ambitions into action, for example working with over 20 authorities who have led the way through adopting a place-based approach and commissioning a local area energy plan. But even the most forward-thinking local authority can hit snags when it comes to their Net Zero journey.

That’s where Innovate UK’s Living Pathfinder programme comes in, working with areas who are leading the charge we are supporting them to understand the non-technical barriers to decarbonisation they face. For example skills shortages, planning permission, access to finance and public engagement. Following on from this, the local authorities proposed innovative solutions to overcome these non-technical barriers which could be explored further in the next phase of this funded programme.

The Solution

Each project team developed an individual approach to address the non-technical barriers to their Net Zero journey. The Catapult played a different role in each project, often working as part of a wider consortium with cross sector partners.

Net Zero Belfast

The Catapult led the project team to assess the non-technical barriers of the hydrogen value chain and the needs and opportunities for Belfast stakeholders. As a result, the project developed a plan to establish a Belfast Green Industry Accelerator (BGIA), to support the concept of “green-shoring” in the UK.

The ‘BGIA’ is designed to be a programme of real-world demonstrator projects supported by a digital backbone which provides:

  • Academic and industry training and accreditation services
  • Industry test and certification of components (primarily low carbon hydrogen economy)
  • Advisory services to industry, regulators, standards, and governance bodies (E.g., Carbon Accounting standards and regulation).

This in turn would support delivery of social, environmental, and economic benefits providing all our citizens with a cleaner, sustainable, affordable, and resilient green energy supply.

Net Zero Caerphilly Whole System Decision Support Toolkit

Energy Systems Catapult helped this project develop a prototype toolkit which aims to provide energy information services to local authorities, businesses and residents, to help them make informed decisions about their local low-carbon energy future.

Leicestershire CAN (Collaboration to Accelerate Net Zero)

The Catapult to develop six principles of governance, co-designed with Leicestershire stakeholders, and validated against academic literature.

A Community Energy Pathways framework was proposed as the delivery mechanism to link the countywide Net Zero strategy with community-led local consultation, support, finance and delivery.

Peterborough Accelerated Net Zero (PANZ)

Energy Systems Catapult helped to develop an engagement framework that ensures local people can play a pivotal role in delivering Net Zero change.

The framework helps the Local Authority understand as part of the Local Area Energy Planning process or other Net Zero projects and activities, who to engage, why they need to engage with them and how to engage with them.

The final capability will not only accelerate the implementation of the LAEP but also generate wider impact and added value.

Accelerating York’s Net Zero Transition

This project builds on the York Local Area Energy Plan to identify focus areas within the city where a local, accelerated approach to Net Zero could be delivered.

The Catapult’s role was to use the LAEP output data and census 2021 data to identify the most impactful selection of low carbon interventions in the most suitable localities.

The final proposal was a One Stop Shop approach to retrofit and low-carbon technology using the local supply chain supplemented by a digital platform linked to potential financing routes.


Identifying specific local challenges and innovative solutions to address them, could help other local authorities decide how to make progress with their decarbonisation.

These projects could help de-risk the acceleration of decarbonisation and highlight market opportunities for supply chains, investors, and local people to build capacity & capability, as well as engaging local residents and key stakeholders.

Next Steps

Energy Systems Catapult aims to build on the learning from phase 1 of this project, helping disseminate what has been learned to maximise impact and build on it by playing a part of the second phase of this programme.

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