Local authorities and network operators face the looming challenge of choosing the best options for their local area in transitioning to a decarbonised energy system. Given that much of the UK’s current housing stock is energy inefficient, expensive to keep warm, and contains an array of building types – many local decision-makers are struggling to make the right decisions for their area.
The EnergyPath Networks (EPN) is a software modelling tool that has been developed using whole-systems analysis to help local authorities and network operators to explore the costs and benefits of various infrastructure choices to deliver future local area energy targets.
The EPN framework considers:
- building fabric insulation
- heat provision and storage at both network and building level
- gas, electricity and heat network installation, upgrade, maintenance or decommissioning
Designed to help deliver local energy transition plans for the next 5 to 10 years, with credible pathway options to 2050, EPN ensures long-term resilience from decisions made now, to help mitigate against the risk of stranded assets.
EPN is unique in combining four aspects of energy system planning in a single tool:
- a multi-vector (electricity, gas, etc.) approach, allowing trade-off between different energy vectors or networks to be understood
- a spatial relationship between buildings and the networks that serve them, so that costs and benefits correctly represent the area being assessed
- the ability to compare a large number of combinations of options
- optimisation for multiple analysis areas within the study area and for separate time periods
EPN is being developed as part of phase one of the Energy Technologies Institute’s Smart Systems and Heat programme and is delivering local area transition plans for three separate local authorities – Newcastle City Council, Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Bridgend County Borough Council – with this work scheduled to conclude in early 2018.