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Moving local energy strategies from evolutionary to revolutionary

In my last blog Empowering local authorities in the clean energy revolution I talked about the importance of Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and other public bodies working together if they are to create a local energy system fit for the future, as energy flows don’t stop at county borders.

This week, I was pleased to be at the launch of a local energy strategy, developed by Siemens, for three LEPs covering the south east of England. This is an important piece of work, which brings together a clear plan with tangible outputs.

It is the start of the journey for the region and it makes clear the scale of the problem. But, it will need investment from both the public and private sector to achieve its aims – £14 billion in investment to be exact. 

The low carbon economy is set to grow at 11% per year – four times faster than the rest of the economy from now until 2030. However the Committee on Climate Change says we are not going to meet the fourth carbon budget, so clear something needs to happen, and happen fast.

The good news is we can fix this. There is a national imperative to decarbonise and have cleaner air in our cities and regions. I spent many years working in Shanghai, and the first thing I would do each morning is check the air quality levels. We don’t want to get to that point in the UK, so action is needed now –  and when I looked earlier this week, four of the six moderately polluted areas (from over 100 monitored locations in the UK) are in the south east!!

But the south east has already made great progress in decarbonising through picking the loww hanging fruits. Now the hard work starts. There are already great projects underway, including a heat from waste plant and using old landfill sites to build solar farms, but there is more to do. We know that we can’t make the progress we need to the 2030s and 2050s unless we look clearly at heat and transport.

The strategy identifies 18 key projects across five themes. The project areas are not a pipe dream. We have identified real projects which can get off the ground. But it needs a collaborative effort from the public and private sector. These are projects which you can learn quickly from and scale up. To decarbonise you have to do it at scale – nothing will change at the pace it needs to if you only take small steps.

By 2032 the main output for the south east would be investment of £14.755 billion in commercially and technically viable projects which deliver healthy returns to stakeholders; a reduction in CO2 emissions across the electricity, heat and transport sectors of 13 million tonnes – the equivalent of removing all five million cars in the south east from the road; reduced energy consumption equivalent to providing three million homes with a low-carbon supply of both electricity and heating as well as creating and securing more than 75,000 jobs.

It also provides the opportunity to place the south east as a beacon for the low carbon economy for the rest of the UK. It will be able to decarbonise, foster clean growth and ensure local people and society are beneficiaries of the energy strategy.

It is going to take time – there’s no denying that. But, this strategy is just the start and moves from an evolutionary to a revolutionary approach. I’m excited to see what happens in the region and how other LEPs will learn from their experience.

To download the report visit:
https://www.southeastlep.com/energysouth2east/

To find out more about Siemens Local Energy Systems visit: www.siemens.co.uk/localenergysystems