Key to a successful localised energy framework for heat and power is taking advantage of local self-organising energy grouping that have been taking shape around existing local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) – and groups that look at heat demand alongside energy.
Local Enterprise Partnerships are non-statutory bodies. This means they can look and operate very differently from each other, in terms of size, capacity and governance. All LEPs must be chaired by a business person and at least half of the members must come from the private sector.
The 38 LEPs have responsibility for bidding for central government funding and influencing local funding streams, and for ensuring that these deliver against the locally agreed priorities.
Each is producing an energy plan, on its own or with other LEPs.
For all the LEPs energy is an enabler and for some it is an important industry in its own right. As a result, five Energy Hubs have been created under the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. The Hubs have been created to increase public sector capacity to bring forward energy schemes and they are at arm’s length from BEIS, with flexibility to agree objectives that align with local needs.
Energy offers an opportunity for local and regional groups, and one that has been organising in a relatively fluid way around other place-based initiatives. LEPs from the North West and North East hubs, for example, have joined forces as NP11 to produce a strategy for energy and clean growth aligned with the Northern Powerhouse.
Meanwhile, energy also represents a potential constraint for local development. Access to network capacity was the most frequent problem cited in the LEP energy plans, both for new local electricity generation but also for new demand – whether because of domestic expansion or because commercial and industrial customers have sought to expand their import capacity. At least one LEP plan aims to turn that into an opportunity by developing expertise in smart grids.
Below we present a summary guide to England’s current place-based energy framework: 38 LEPs, five Energy Hubs and a snapshot of the energy issues in each.
GREATER SOUTH EAST ENERGY HUB
Eleven LEPs are members of the Greater South East Energy Hub and it has a complex mix of sub regions. The eastern and coastal region can claim to be the “only part of the UK with expertise and operations in all areas of energy generation”, with both offshore wind and oil and gas to support, nuclear, a gas terminal and onshore conventional and renewable generation. Kent too has an offshore renewables industry where more benefits could be retained in the region.
Other areas of the hub are very different. Oxfordshire has “an ambition to be one of the top three innovation ecosystems” for example. But fast growth and growing populations across the inland areas – London, the M3 corridor, the Thames valley and the Oxford-Cambridge arc – offer a different sphere of innovation. Here the constrained grid, knowledge industries and the needs of transport mean smart grids, microgrids and new business models are expected to emerge that make use of the distributed generation that is most likely to be deployed.
O The Business Board Replaces Greater Cambridgeshire and Great Peterborough LEP *Local Energy East strategy
O Coast to Capital LEP *EnergySouth2East strategy
O Hertfordshire LEP *Local Energy East strategy
O New Anglia LEP *Local Energy East strategy
Norfolk and Suffolk
O Enterprise M3 West Surrey and most of the county of Hampshire, includes Guildford, Winchester, Woking, Farnborough and Basingstoke.
O Thames Valley Berkshire LEP Reading, Bracknell, Maidenhead, Slough, Windsor
O South East Midlands The SEMLEP area covers four unitary authorities – Bedford Borough, Central Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes – and eight district councils – Aylesbury Vale, Corby, Daventry, East Northamptonshire, Kettering, Northampton, South Northamptonshire and Wellingborough
O Southeast LEP *EnergySouth2East strategy
SOUTH WEST ENERGY HUB
The South West Energy Hub comprises seven LEPs and its hub is at the West of England Combined Authority.
The region’s 600 mile coastline means it has energy resources to spare – a joint energy strategy for Cornwall, Devon and the Scilly Isles notes that the region “is home to the best wind resource in Western Europe, the best solar and geothermal resource in mainland the UK, and has huge resource potential for marine renewables”. Nevertheless, the region currently imports 88% of its energy, at a cost of £9 billion annually. The aim is to become a net exporter, while making use of new power generating capability to provide renewable power for electric heat and vehicle options. Consistent planning regimes across the region is seen as an important enabler to roll-out projects.
Elsewhere in the region resources are different but ambition remains high: Gloucestershire aims to become a national leader in low-carbon heart, with test projects planned in the Forest of Dean and the Cotswolds. Solent LEP, meanwhile, wants to become a centre of expertise on low carbon options for shipping and marine industries, while building on existing smart network projects on the Isle of Wight.
O Gfirst LEP Gloucestershire
O Heart of South West LEP Devon, Plymouth, Somerset and Torbay.
O Solent LEP Isle of Wight, Portsmouth and Southampton, the M27 corridor and the Solent
O West of England LEP Bath and NE Somerset, Bristol, South Gloucestershire EMAILED
MIDLANDS ENERGY HUB
The Midlands Energy Hub comprises nine LAEPs and the energy hub operates via Nottingham City Council.
The region stretches from the Welsh borders to counties flanking the M1 and energy production and use varies across the region. In the Marches there is more opportunity for generation across the renewables portfolio, with opportunities for both wind and solar. The area has a particular focus on biomass and leads on anaerobic digestion – giving rise to interesting possibilities to consider lowering emissions in energy and agriculture simultaneously.
Moving eastwards through the region the link between energy and transport becomes more important and the nature of the transport demand changes: Leicestershire and the Nottingham and Derby (N2D2) areas are hubs for freight and distribution so there is particular interest in developing electric vehicle infrastructure.
It is the central and eastern part of the region that also notes how important it is to meet the needs of businesses with large energy demands. Leicestershire in particular hopes to tap into “a vast wind resource”, while the Black Country and South East Midlands areas aim to combine energy efficiency in those businesses with on-site generation, especially PV.
O Black Country LEP Boroughs of Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and the City of Wolverhampton
O D2N2 Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire
O Greater Lincolnshire LEP the Midlands engine, the Humber Estuary and the Northern Powerhouse
O Marches LEP Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin
O Worcestershire LEP
NORTH WEST HUB
Five LEPs make up the North West Energy Hub. Some include the UK’s biggest energy assets, such as the nuclear complex at Sellafield with its skilled staff. But national parks like the Lake District need support in developing local energy projects.
The region has seen a boom in heat networks that could present a replicable model for other regions. But some projects have been held up by lack of funding.
O 871 Cheshire and Warrington
O Greater Manchester LEP
NORTH EAST HUB
The six LEPs in the North East Energy Hub represent some of the UK’s largest energy users and some of its largest energy generators. That remains the case as the focus shifts from fossil generation to offshore wind and other low-carbon generation- the North East can claim that its offshore energy and subsea technology cluster is nationally and globally important.The industry clustered in the region means it has the energy scale to take on some of the UK’s big challenges: investigating carbon capture and storage as well as the potential to produce and transport hydrogen for use in place of natural gas.
O Humber LEP Hull, East Riding, North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire
O Northeast LEP County Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Sunderland
O Tees Valley LEP Darlington, Redcar & Cleveland,Hartlepool, Stockton on Tees, Middlesbrough
O Enterprise Partnership York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Enterprise Partnership