Local Area Energy Plans (LAEP) are playing a vital role in the race to net zero – by improving our understanding of what the energy transition is likely to involve, playing a crucial part in shaping the transition to a radically new energy system.
With CCR recently commissioning Arup, Carbon Trust and Afallen to prepare LAEPs for each Local Authority in the region, we spoke with Rob O’Dwyer, Head of Infrastructure and Emma Wakeham, LAEP Programme Manager of the CCR infrastructure team – discovering how these plans will help deliver a low carbon economy, paving the way for a prosperous future and a society that’s fairer and healthier for all …
“Informing, shaping and enabling a profound energy transition”
“It’s difficult to overstate the importance of LAEP for our region’s transition to a net zero carbon energy system” says Rob.
“They’re core initiatives playing a vital role in informing, shaping and enabling key aspects of our energy transition – in a highly diverse region that’s home to communities and industries that stretch from coastline to valley, from towns and cities to villages and isolated rural locations.
“That diversity of terrain and topography will see us creating a unique plan for each individual Local Authority (LA) in South East Wales – through a robust technical analysis that provides a choice of ‘low regret’ pathways for each authority.
“There’s no one size solution. The priorities and opportunities for Bridgend and Monmouthshire will be different from the pathways that are best for Blaenau Gwent and Rhondda Cynon Taf.
“By factoring in the undoubted uniqueness of each authority, we’re enabling them to confidently ‘own’ an energy plan that understands their starting point – empowering them to accelerate in the best way possible towards net zero.
“For the team here at CCR, this is a great opportunity for local and national governments to work together to create an energy system that gives every LA in our region the capability to shape its energy future, according to local needs and dynamics.”
“A rigorous and robust process, geared to five key objectives”
“CCR has brought real rigour and robustness to the whole process” explained Emma.
“We’ve established five key objectives to shape the best possible LAEP for each local authority – starting by building on any work done to date, which has enabled us to analyse and prioritise every opportunity each local authority has to decarbonise.
“With that analysis in place, we’ve developed fruitful partnerships with public bodies, utilities and private partners to deliver an optimised and effective energy plan – working collaboratively to share progress and learnings on both a regional and national level.
“Fulfilling those first three objectives enables us to converge and consolidate our studies – and build a common plan for decarbonising the local energy system, working with a wide range of stakeholders to create the best possible LAEP for each authority.
“It’s a pioneering and bespoke programme that follows the Energy Systems Catapult guidelines – with incredibly valuable outputs that include a tailored understanding of the priorities and geographies our local partners need to invest in, as well as being a key catalyst for stakeholder buy-in to the whole energy system transformation that’s about to happen before our very eyes.
“Together, these local plans will form the foundation of a National Energy Plan for Wales – shaping a future energy system that’s smart and flexible, creating a programme for effective and sustained local action to tackle climate change.”
With a series of two-hour workshops being run across the region – to get as many perspectives as possible on the planned objectives, baselining, scenarios, pathways and actions – it’s anticipated that all LAEPs will be fully developed by March 2024, with implementation of the plans starting in 2024-25.
So look out for our regular updates on plans that will shape the future energy system of South East Wales …
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