The transition to a Net Zero economy requires a fundamental change in the way our energy system operates. Our switch to renewable generation means we must develop an energy system which combines a mix of large-scale power generation with local decentralised energy systems. As our case studies illustrate, the solutions should not and could not be the same everywhere - a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach will not be cost effective.
As Energy Systems Catapult notes, Net Zero will not only require changes to the physical system, but also an enabling of digital and market systems. Local area energy planning will be crucial to the successful decarbonisation of our communities and economy. The right energy decarbonisation strategy needs to be developed and implemented at a local level to account for unique conditions, and it depends on a range of factors including geography, energy resource, infrastructure, building types, growth plans and the low carbon ambitions of the local community.
A detailed understanding of local conditions will be necessary to develop local energy systems designed to take advantage of the different resources available across the country to support our energy demands. Initiatives should also be designed to deliver more than lower carbon emissions, and aim to meet the social, economic and health needs of the community. For example by creating jobs and re-skilling a workforce, tackling fuel poverty, increasing health and well-being, generating income for the council. Local authorities are uniquely placed to help in this process.