Challenges and opportunities of a decentralised energy future

20 Sep 2018

IPPR’s latest publication A distributed energy future for the UK: An essay collection considers the challenges and opportunities of a decentralised energy future.

The publication included an essay from myself and Jan Webb, focusing on the potential for local authorities to participate in decentralised energy provision, alongside other local actors. This essay highlights that many local authorities already have ambitious local energy strategies that aim to keep bills down, improve health and create jobs, as well as providing energy services. Examples from across the UK are used to show a range of local authority roles in enabling, advising and investing in local energy.

Ultimately, however the essay concludes that new supportive policy, statutory powers and resources are needed to ensure effective action for the social, economic and environmental prosperity envisaged from a more decentralised energy system. Back in 2012, the Committee on Climate Change proposed the introduction of a new statutory duty for local authorities to ‘develop and implement low-carbon plans’. Proposals for local authority energy powers to develop and implement a Local Heat and Energy Efficiency Strategy are also currently being considered in Scotland. There is unlikely to be a single model for localised energy planning, development and management which works everywhere, However, we know from European practice that coordination between local and national governments, as well as specific powers and procedures for energy planning, supportive regulation, and access to low cost, long term finance are all critical to energy systems with a strong municipal component.

The essay ‘Who else will need to deliver? The role of community and local institutions draws from the Local Engagement in UK Energy Systems research and report.