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Decarbonising local places: local area energy planning

local councils now have LAEPs, and Welsh Government has adopted LAEP into planning policy’.

All 10 Greater Manchester boroughs now have LAEPs, which have identified £3.5bn of low carbon investment opportunities to 2050

More than 80% of local authorities in the UK have declared a climate emergency, with most targeting net zero before 2050. Yet only a few have a clear plan on how to get there.

Energy Systems Catapult pioneered the development of Local Area Energy Planning (LAEP) – a data driven and whole energy system approach that identifies the most cost-effective route for a local area to cut carbon emissions.

LAEPs consider: electricity, heat, gas networks, future potential for hydrogen, the fabric and systems of built environment (industrial, domestic and commercial buildings), flexibility, energy generation and storage, and decarbonising transport e.g. electricity to electric vehicles and charging infrastructure.

The results are a fully costed, spatial plan that identifies the change needed to the local energy system and built environment to meet carbon targets.

This includes identifying the priority projects for investment, as well as helping consider the need for new low carbon skills.

LAEP is being implemented by several local authorities in England, has been officially adopted by the Welsh Government and is being considered by the Scottish Government.

It has been referenced in multiple reports, including the Climate Change Committee’s ‘Reducing UK Emissions 2020’.

Northern Powergrid and Northern Gas Networks have partnered in creating a charter for how they will support Local Area Energy Plans in Yorkshire and North East region and Ofgem included LAEP in their recommendations for the latest RIIO-2 Business Planning Guidance for energy networks.

The LAEP work undertaken is powerful because it identifies not just the type of technologies which will be needed for the net zero transition but their scale, indicative location and costs.

Mark Atherton
Director of Environment at Greater Manchester Combined Authority