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Local Area Energy Planning

Aerial view of a new suburb in an English town.

Local Area Energy Planning (LAEP) brings together people, data and technical analysis to drive the process of decarbonisation at local authority level.

Local Area Energy Planning (LAEP) is a process that helps inform, shape and enable key aspects of the transition to a net zero carbon energy system.

Around 75% of councils have declared a climate emergency. But few have clear plans on how they are going to get to net zero.

The energy system is responsible for a large portion of greenhouse gas emissions, making it a priority in decarbonisation planning. Many actors have a stake and influence in local energy systems. Meanwhile, local authorities have influence over what can be done and the LAEP is designed to bring together people alongside the data and technical analysis to drive the process of decarbonisation.

If done well, Local Area Energy Plans can:

What are the key components of a LAEP?

CSE’s approach to Local Area Energy Plans

Our approach recognises the significance of all four components and gives equal weight to each of them. Unlike other approaches, which tend to prioritise technical analysis as the main focus, we believe all components are equally important and need to be delivered robustly throughout the process, starting from the outset.

Understanding the local area

We start with characterising the area and understanding how things are done on the ground. This should also highlight what local data is available, who holds it and how we can get it to inform the analyses.

Technical analysis

Technical analysis covers decarbonisation options for heat in buildings, transport and power systems, including renewable energy generation opportunities. We do this with our in house developed, pioneering heat network zoning model THERMOS and modelling we developed for the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero.

We also use our Albion model to provide analysis of rooftop PV potential for every roof in the local area. Contributing to the renewable energy generation potential of the area – key to decarbonising the energy system.

Heat, transport and power systems come together in the analysis of the grid reinforcement needed.

And we also zoom into a handful of priority projects where we undertake more detailed localised analysis for the projects that stand a good chance of being implemented in the near term. The modelling and analyses for these elements need to come together at the end into integrated decarbonisation scenarios for the local area.

Non-technical analysis

Alongside technical considerations, it is important to look at wider determinants key for the successful decarbonisation of the energy system, for example, what goes beyond the technology required? This would only tell us, for example, that we will need 8,000 heat pump installed, 300 additional EV charging points, a big solar farm and 10 new substations.

But what about other very important factors that the delivery of these technologies or changes depend on? These factors include:

Effective governance

Effective governance is crucial in the development of the Local Area Energy Plan (LAEP) to ensure it is both ambitious and achievable for the locality. It’s also important for ensuring accountability from those who have the responsibility to drive and implement the necessary changes towards achieving net zero goals. We work with local authorities to develop an effective process around this that is tailored to local structures and responsibilities.

Engagement is key

For the plan to be successful, it’s vital we engage at many levels. This starts from engagement across the funder organisation including other relevant departments of the local authority. To branching out to key stakeholder with a direct interest in the plan including district network operators (DNOs), or renewable energy developers. And even further, engaging with to those with indirect links to the plan but who have the potential to play a key role in its implementation including developers, voluntary sector, community leaders, registered social landlords and anyone who can play a role in promoting or implementing the successful decarbonisation of the local energy system.

Get in touch

If you’re developing or commissioning a Local Area Energy Plan, or other form of area-based net zero or renewable energy resource study, get in touch. Together we’ll find the approach that best meet your needs.

Area-based net zero and renewable energy resource studies

We’ve also undertaken a number of net zero studies for cities and towns including Bristol, Barnsley and Liverpool.

In 2020, Ofgem commissioned CSE, working with Energy Systems Catapult, to draw up an early method and set of quality standards for local area energy planning that could be adopted as a framework used across Great Britain.