Poppy Maltby, head of cities and regions, reflects on our recent project with the Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership which involved identifying local investment opportunities that would unlock a green recovery.
Unlocking local net zero investment opportunities
As local authorities and regions work to deliver against climate emergency declarations, it is important they continue to build local support for action, which means understanding the economic and social benefits of the net zero transition, in addition to the carbon impact.
Regen has worked on a unique study with Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to identify the investments opportunities for net zero within Dorset based on the area’s specific geography and resource, as well as to understand the economic benefits that could reach the local area from the shift to decarbonised energy for heat, transport and power.
The study involved two work packages, the first was to produce an evidence base which analysed local Dorset resources and energy infrastructure, identifying local decarbonisation pathways based on national trajectories. The second was to highlight ten key investment opportunities for Dorset to progress now to benefit from the transition. These covered areas including renewable energy, future hydrogen pathways, decarbonising heat and transport as well as energy infrastructure.
The analysis showed that Dorset is a unique microcosm of future energy opportunities, boasting significant potential in all key low carbon energy sectors, from solar PV and offshore wind to hydrogen and energy storage, as well as having potential for onshore wind, marine energy, nuclear and bioresource. The historic onshore oil and gas production in the region, and salt caverns underlying Portland, offer opportunities for hydrogen, carbon and energy storage that are unique in the South of England.
This study has been put together to move Dorset swiftly from a declaration of a climate emergency to identifying clear next steps and actions to position the county to realise the benefits from the net zero transition. This includes investing in skills, future technologies and infrastructure to support the green economy.
Dorset’s important natural advantages mean that the area has real potential to be a leader in a net zero energy system. An additional 1 GW of solar capacity and 1 GW of offshore wind would position Dorset as a net renewable energy exporter by 2050, delivering £2bn of inward investment and c. 3,500 local jobs.
It is increasingly clear that achieving net zero is unlikely to follow the path of a single national trajectory. Instead it is likely to involve a patchwork of locally specific opportunities and actions coming together to decarbonise the UK. Studies such as this will help ensure that local areas understand the economic benefits and investment opportunities of net zero, equipping them with a clear pathway to unlock a greener future.