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Local area energy planning: achieving net zero locally

This POSTnote considers the relatively new process of local area energy planning that aims to deliver net zero targets more effectively at the regional level.

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Local Area Energy Planning (LAEP) is a relatively new process designed to deliver effective local action to contribute to the 2050 net zero emission target. The Government’s 2021 Net Zero Strategy estimates that 82% of the UK’s emissions are “within the scope of influence of local authorities”. Using technical evidence on the whole energy system, wider non-technical factors, engagement with stakeholders, and clear governance, LAEP provides a net zero ‘action plan’ for local leaders that also accounts for action at the national level. By taking a more proactive, whole-systems, data-driven approach to energy planning, LAEP aims to deliver cost savings and a more managed energy transition.

This POSTnote will consider how effective the process of LAEP is in delivering the necessary energy system changes required at the local level using the early examples of ‘trail blazer’ local authorities that are adopting the process. It will explore how an LAEP is created using modelling and analysis systems and the technologies employed to inform the process. The briefing will also consider the emerging evidence from the current examples of LAEP alongside common aspects of regional plans for power, heat, transport, industry and the environment.

Key Points

  • Local area energy planning (LAEP) is a relatively new process designed to deliver effective local action to contribute to the UK’s 2050 net zero greenhouse gas emissions target.
  • LAEP provides an action plan for local leaders that also accounts for action at the national level. It incorporates technical evidence on the whole energy system, wider non-technical factors and engagement with stakeholders.
  • LAEP aims to deliver cost savings, social benefits and a more coordinated energy transition by taking a proactive, whole-systems, place-specific approach to energy planning. Innovate UK are working with the Government to gather evidence on value added and investment returns.
  • LAEPs have recently become a statutory requirement for Welsh local authorities. ‘Trailblazer cities’ like Greater Manchester have adopted LAEPs with ambitious pre-2050 net zero targets across the UK.
  • 20 local authorities have LAEPs in the UK. There are significant barriers to roll-out such as the capacity and skills of local authorities, short-term funding, data transparency and a lack of standardisation.
  • The role of local authorities and the governance structure between local, regional, and national net zero plans is not yet formalised. The regional energy planning system has gained more focus and recently been consulted on by Ofgem.


POSTnotes are based on literature reviews and interviews with a range of stakeholders and are externally peer reviewed. POST would like to thank interviewees and peer reviewers for kindly giving up their time during the preparation of this briefing, including:

Members of the POST Board

Avi Aithal, Energy Networks Association*

Neil Best, Centre for Sustainable Energy

Jess Britton, UK Energy Research Centre*

Simon Brooke, Electricity North West Limited

Laura Clark, Citizens Advice*

Matthew Cook, Open University*

Richard Cowell, Cardiff University*

Robin Dent, Department for Energy Security and Net Zero*

Kayla Entre, Brighton and Hove Energy Services Co-op*

Tim German, Energy Systems Catapult*

Jodie Giles, UKRI Innovate UK*

Ed Gill, Energy Networks Association*

Keith Hampshall, Centre for Sustainable Energy

Cheryl Hiles, West Midlands Combined Authority

David Joffe, Climate Change Committee*

Christos Kaloudas, Electricity North West Limited

Richard Leach, Energy Systems Catapult*

Poppy Maltby, Regen*

Flora Mavri, UK Power Networks

Ben O’Driscoll, Department for Energy Security and Net Zero*

Sean Owen, Greater Manchester Combined Authority*

Katie Privett, York and North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership, and North East and Yorkshire Net Zero Hub*

Grazia Ragone, Department for Energy Security and Net Zero*

Zoe Roberts, UK100

Rob Saunders, UKRI Innovate UK*

Anna Stegman, Energy Systems Catapult

Neil Strachan, UCL

Joanne Wade, Association for Decentralised Energy

Janette Webb, UK Energy Research Centre*

* Denotes people who acted as external reviewers of this briefing

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