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‘Sporadic funding' stifling net-zero efforts

Words: Laura Edgar
Loan funding / iStock-878953966

A systematic approach to planning, funding and powers is needed to meet net-zero ambitions at the local level, rather than the current ‘sporadic funding’ described as ‘stifling’ in a new report.

Enabling Smart Local Energy Systems: Finance and Investment, by Energy Systems Catapult, suggests a move away from one-off energy, transport and heat projects towards a more systematic approach that delivers joined-up local energy communities that attract investment, drives clean economic growth and funds net-zero.

Energy Systems Catapult was set up by Government to boost innovation in specific sectors and help drive future economic growth. Its report, based on research undertaken with local government and UK investors, contains the following recommendations:

  • Generate awareness of the value and opportunities of smart local energy systems (SLES). The government should clarify the long-term direction of travel in relation to energy market design, policy and regulation to reduce regulatory risk and provide clarity on sources of value and potential revenues. Local authorities should engage and collaborate with SLES developers and support organisations who are looking to clarify the SLES opportunity.
  • Legislate so that local authorities have power and capability to deliver local net zero strategies (including SLES). The government should clarify the local authority role of LAs and empower them to achieve net zero targets and ensure that local authorities have appropriate powers, capability and capacity to coordinate implementation of place-based net-zero policies and strategies tailored to local circumstances.
  • Create a consistent net-zero planning framework for local authorities to develop SLES. The government should promote consistent planning and programme development processes for local authorities to understand progress against targets and investors to understand opportunities suitable for a range of local areas.

Philip New, chief executive at Energy Systems Catapult, said: “Local authorities have a pivotal role to play in the net-zero transition, leveraging public funding to attract the private finance needed to deliver the clean technologies and infrastructure required by local communities.

“Yet there is a risk that the potential value and co-benefits that integrated local systems can offer will be missed if investors focus only on siloed technologies and separate asset classes.”

The report and recommendations in full can be read here.

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