Within many net zero action plans, local authorities, cities and regions have been asking themselves how they can encourage more renewable energy to be built, whilst maximising the local benefits from this clean energy. Poppy Maltby, head of cities and regions, explores the options.

Local leadership: filling the gaps in support for new renewables

Despite their relative absence in the recent Net Zero Strategy, we know that smaller and medium-sized onshore renewables are going to be a crucial part of delivering the fourfold increase in renewable generation we need.

Importantly for communities and local government, it is this plethora of small renewable, wind and solar sites across the UK that have a huge potential to contribute to the local economy through new skills, jobs and investment – and ultimately decarbonising, decentralising AND democratising our energy system.

What gets these projects built is long term power price certainty. However, at present there is little certainty and at the same time little associated policy that can support these smaller, local and community-owned projects. Though very welcome, the Contracts for Difference Round 4, Pot 1 auction will be the preserve of the big guys with the capacity to bid.

Rising electricity wholesale prices have also focused minds on the need for more home grown energy, as well as on the need to hedge against future price rises. The good news is that, for the UK government, these rises have an upside – their existing CfD contracts are now starting to pay back to the public purse.

So what is the solution? Within many net zero action plans, local authorities, cities and regions have been asking themselves how they can encourage more renewable energy to be built, whilst maximising the local benefits from this clean energy.

There is a key role for these organisations as planning authorities, but they can also play a more direct role as landowners, developers and purchasers of power, using this leverage to enable local renewable energy project development.

To support this, Regen has developed a guide for local authorities and other local actors who are looking at how they can fill the current policy gap, get local projects built, save energy costs, as well as hedge against their exposure to future energy price rises.

The guide covers the pros and cons of existing direct ownership, private wires and sleeving as well as exploring some emerging models including local CfDs, sleeving pools and local electricity tariffs.

We will be introducing this guide at a webinar on 17 November where we will be hearing from local authorities who have been taking forward these approaches including. Sign up for the event here.

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