The independent and not-for-profit energy think tank Regen has reinforced the case for community energy initiatives, such as Norwich Community Solar. In a recent report it warns that without “active engagement” of the people and organisations living and working in the UK’s nations, cities and regions, the net zero target will not be reached.
Local leadership to transform our energy system states that, without national government action, local government will not be able to reach the full potential of what it can do on energy. With the pandemic having wiped out budgets and stealing resources that could have been invested in climate and energy this year, local authorities will have to use all their “creativity and innovation” to create income streams and share resources to unlock energy projects.
It sets out a series of recommendations for government to ensure that localities are able to drive action to transform the UK’s energy system and identified 10 “top asks”, including a new statutory duty for local authorities on net zero energy, with appropriate funding, resources and reporting to deliver against it, to release local leadership across the country.
It also calls for local authorities’ role in energy network planning and investment to be unlocked, suggesting the establishment of a formal governance role for UK regions as a way to do this; for guidance to be issued on how to set up new Power Purchase Agreements to help local authorities support community energy projects; and for local government to be handed control of retrofit funding, enabling local rollout of energy efficiency measures. Elsewhere, it recommends the ambition of the Future Homes Standard should be raised to be net zero compliant, with local authorities given the freedom to be more ambitious than the national decarbonisation timetable in setting their local plan policies for new homes and commercial developments.