Local Area Energy Planning: Supporting clean growth and low carbon transition

Published: 7 December 2018


Decarbonising heat is the biggest challenge the UK faces in terms of transforming the energy system to meet carbon reduction targets and achieve our clean growth ambitions.

Energy Systems Catapult delivered the UK’s largest smart, consumer-focused project aimed at overcoming the barriers to the decarbonisation of residential heat – the Smart Systems and Heat (SSH) programme.

SSH Phase 1 (2015-2017)

Focused on developing capabilities, tools and insights for Local Energy System Modelling and Domestic Energy Services and was delivered by the Energy Systems Catapult for the Energy Technologies Institute.

The next phase of decarbonisation will focus heavily on the challenges of heat and the energy performance of buildings, with costs measured in hundreds of billions of pounds by 2050. This will  require a whole systems approach to help decide on the best mix of building improvements, low carbon heating technologies, power, gas and heating networks to deliver low carbon and affordable energy.In a project delivered for the Energy Technologies Institute, Energy Systems Catapult has designed a planning framework to help local government, energy networks and other key local stakeholders prepare for a low carbon future in an cost-efficient and strategic way.

Local Area Energy Planning is a means of exploring a range of different future local energy scenarios to achieve deep decarbonisation at least cost while promoting clean growth. Prior to the publication of this report, there had been little planning for decarbonisation of local energy infrastructure, yet a major overhaul that extends into people’s homes will be necessary to meet climate change targets.

This process enables stakeholders, led by local government, to interrogate different energy futures for an area and to develop the most promising, cost-effective options for decarbonisation. For network operators, it provides a foundation for justifying and planning network upgrades. Local Area Energy Planning develops a shared vision as a basis for targeting investment, encouraging innovation, securing value for money and gaining public understanding and support.

Key points

Three publications have been produced to summarise the conclusions, provide guidance and case study insights of the work:

1. Local Area Energy Planning: Supporting clean growth and low carbon transition

Download the main report aimed at government, decision makers and related stakeholders, setting out how Local Area Energy Planning can address some of the challenges of UK climate and energy policy and to help deliver the UK’s clean growth opportunity.

2. Local Area Energy Planning: Guidance for local authorities and energy providers

Aimed at local/regional organisations, energy network operators and other stakeholders, setting out the case for local leadership and providing guidance to undertake Local Area Energy Planning.

3. Local Area Energy Planning: Insights from three pilot local areas

A supporting document which summarises the insights of the process undertaken with the three pilot areas.

Next steps

We are now working with the three areas to develop Smart Energy Plans. These will enable local stakeholders to test the options outlined in the Local Area Energy Strategies to work out how they could be implemented through modelling and demonstrator projects.