Frankie Mayo, senior analyst at Regen highlights some of the key findings from a series of engagement events held with WPD licence area stakeholders for the Distribution Future Energy Scenarios
Western Power Distribution (WPD) and Regen have been working together to develop an understanding of how the national net zero transition is built up from a local level. Connections of renewable generators, electric vehicle chargers, and electric low-carbon heat will all have an impact on the local electricity network. The outcomes of this project will feed into WPD strategic network investment for a net zero future.
As part of this project, Regen have hosted a suite of four webinars to gather feedback on the assumptions and methodology used for those projections. The webinars held for South Wales, South West, East Midlands and West Midlands enabled us to engage with over 200 individuals from local authorities, community energy groups and developers as well as many others. This provided an insightful perspective from those working and living in the licence areas.
Over the course of the four webinars, we discussed with stakeholders the key barriers impacting the uptake of various low-carbon generation and demand technologies. We presented the current assumptions we use to project where and when different technologies may connect to the WPD network and invited the attendees to question and vote on these assumptions.
We sought and received specific feedback which will directly influence our modelling
As an example, we presented our understanding of the planning regime for onshore wind in Wales. Since 2008, large-scale wind farms have been built predominantly in a few specific zones set out by the Welsh Government, and we incorporated these into our previous DFES work in South Wales. There are now proposed new green, amber, and red ‘priority areas’ to supersede the previous planning guidelines and therefore it was especially useful to get direct feedback of stakeholder perspectives on these.
As a part of these discussions, stakeholders raised the point that onshore wind farms were unlikely to be limited to just the new green priority areas, that not all this land was developable, and that development is likely to be more widely spatially distributed. This is being taken on board in our modelling, and we will include deployment in areas of high wind speed in both green and amber areas.
We also seek to model the impact of local climate emergency declarations, and asked stakeholders what the impacts may be.
Some impacts of climate emergency declarations are already visible. East Devon District Council rejected an application for a gas-fired power plant, citing climate impacts and protection of the open countryside. The potential impacts include new renewable energy designation zones, changing transport infrastructure, and increasing deployment of low-carbon heat. The results of this question from one of our webinars is shown below. Stakeholders suggested that higher standards for new homes, electric vehicle provision, and perhaps a refusal of fossil fuel generators in planning may all arise in areas with a climate emergency declaration. Regen includes local authority factors such as this in our modelling of many technologies, and has worked with several local authorities developing their understanding of local emissions as a response to their declaration of a climate emergency.
Our analysis continues, with added input from these stakeholder consultation events
The insight and results from these webinars will feed into the modelling, as part of this DFES project which runs until autumn 2020. Alongside the dataset of scenario projections, a technology by technology summary document and a DFES ‘in 5 minutes’ report will also be produced. WPD have uploaded previous DFES project data to their ‘map hub’, where you can explore and download data, available here. We asked attendees which of these DFES publications would be most useful to them, and as expected there was a wide range among our options, though the DFES ‘in 5 minutes’ document was most popular, followed by the WPD map as seen in the results from one of our webinars shown below.
Thanks again to all our attendees who fed in questions and insight, the recordings of the webinars are available online here and if you would like to find out more about Regen’s innovative Distribution Future Energy Scenarios you can do so here.