At the end of January, I spoke at a UK100 conference which brought together the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Leeds Climate Commission and UK100 to discuss how local authorities can be empowered to create a local energy system which is fit for purpose for its residents and meets climate change objectives.
The power to make this change is now
well and truly with local authorities and with the right funding, from either
private investment or central government, there are many ways they can position
themselves as a leader in this shift.
It is well documented that the energy
system in the UK has moved from centralised to decentralised power, and now
more than a quarter of the electricity consumed across the UK comes from
This is one way we can shift to a
cleaner, and greener economy, but more still needs to be done to meet climate
objectives as well as the future increase in demand for electricity from the
electrification of transport.
Siemens has the products, engineering
know how and skills to be able to do this. From transmitting the electricity
produced from a windfarm, to making sure it comes out of a plug socket we can
But we also know that a one size fits
all approach isn’t the right way to go. Each local authority will have its own
set of challenges and the options for generating their own electricity will
depend on this.
What we do know is that risk is not
something any local authority has the appetite, or finances to take on.
De-risking a project and providing a clear business case, which may attract
private financial backing will give local authorities the confidence to invest.
Using clear examples of where
there have been cost savings, emissions reduction and the time it would take to
pay back the project is vital.
We’re currently working on an EU funded,
Horizon 2020 project called Triangulum in Manchester. The energy strand is
looking to create innovation to make the city’s Oxford Road corridor a ‘Smart Quarter’, with three key partners
Manchester City Council, University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan
The aims of these innovations are to
reduce energy bills and carbon
emissions, flatten peak demand on the power network and increase the use of
renewable and low carbon energy within the city.
Projects such as Triangulum will not change the world alone though. They need to be scaled up across a whole city to have an impact. Our conservative estimates show that if one part of the project, the Central Controller,were to be scaled across Manchester, upwards of 42,000tCO2 could be saved each year – the equivalent of taking 18,000 (1) cars off the road.
But success isn’t just about selling
technology, although that is helpful for my business. It’s about an attitude
shift and how people interact and adapt these technologies and systems. Just
think about how you consume energy in the home – you know that you should turn
the lights off when you leave a room as it will cost you money, that servicing
your boiler will make it more efficient. Doing this also means emissions aren’t
being created. But, when you do this on
a much larger scale – across a hospital, or even a city, the benefits are much
But we need to bridge the gap between
small scale projects, such as Triangulum, and larger city and even county wide
projects. We know that 85% of the kit we will need for a smart system is in the
ground today – we’re just not using it efficiently. That could be because there
isn’t the confidence to invest – but we need to change that if we’re going to
decarbonise at the pace needed to meet the goals set.
initiative from BEIS, which builds on its funding of Local Energy Strategies
developed by LEPs and local authorities over the last couple of years, is the allocation of £4.8M to create five Local
Energy Hubs across England. These Energy Hubs will provide
additional capacity for LEPs to take a more active role in the area’s energy
ecosystem, addressing the challenges and commercialising the opportunities
related to energy generation, storage, distribution and supply (including heat
networks). This is implicitly underpinned by the Industrial Strategy
Grand Challenge of achieving clean growth.
Local government is in a great place to
enable this transition and we can together work with these Energy Hubs to
create an energy action plan which would provide the business case to de-risk
investment, as well as giving them a bespoke plan for their communities.
Forward thinking local authorities who understand that working together across public and private sector boundaries are the only way to address the grand challenges set in the Industrial Strategy. The provision of energy doesn’t stop at county borders and making sure all parts of the country are looking at what they can do to enable their communities to play a part in the energy transition will be the way forward.
To find out more about local energy systems visit: www.siemens.co.uk/localenergysystems
1 – https://www.businessgreen.com/bg/opinion/2462180/green-heat-on-the-whisky-trail