CLIMATE CHANGE

Decarbonisation: from planning to action

Lack of capacity on the electricity grid can present a significant barrier to local authorities’ net zero goals. Ben Taylor explains how partnering with a decarbonisation expert can help to provide the best chance of success.

With decarbonisation driving ever greater demand for electrification, lack of capacity on the electricity grid can present a significant barrier to local authorities' net zero goals. Here, Ben Taylor explains how partnering with an expert can help to streamline action plans, by planning and prioritising decarbonisation projects to give them the best chance of success.

The push toward net zero has created an enormous shift in how we use energy, significantly increasing demand on the network. For local authorities looking to deliver their local energy plans, having a clear understanding of the network and its available capacity is an important step in ensuring success. However, with stretched resources and sometimes limited access to key data, identifying which projects to prioritise can be a challenge.

Working with an industry partner can be an effective means of accelerating decarbonisation projects by highlighting areas where you can start making a change without waiting for network reinforcement, as well as identifying the best value for money projects to maximise their potential and expedite the timeline. What's more, partnering with a third party that brings novel insights and perspectives to your delivery plan can often result in a fresh approach – such as accessing innovation funding that may not have been otherwise available.

At EA Technology, we offer a wide range of solutions that help local authorities to plan and benchmark performance, offering access to live data and models of the electricity distribution network, as well as a deep understanding of the implications and network connection process. With datasets from world leading EV trials, we understand the uptake of low carbon technologies and how to mitigate their impact on the grid – from planning, to delivery.

Planning and Implementation

EA Technology recently worked with Invest Net Zero Cheshire to develop and implement a roadmap for decarbonisation. Based in Ellesmere Port – an industrial region of Cheshire that faces significant challenges in meeting the UK Government's legal commitments to reducing industrial CO2 emissions – Invest Net Zero Cheshire is providing opportunities for external investment to decarbonise the industry and create more jobs from further renewable and low carbon schemes.

This is a unique project that delivers a blueprint for unlocking capital investment in order to achieve a net zero carbon industrial cluster in Cheshire. EA Technology partnered with the local authority to review and verify the technology solutions and model the impact on the local electricity network.

This project involves a staggered increase of whole industrial energy systems across heating, transport and power between 2022 to 2030. The data-driven roadmap steers investment toward these new technologies and infrastructures, which will generate a saving of more than two million tonnes of carbon by 2030. However, the additional strain and pressure this poses to the electrical network cannot be overlooked, which is where EA Technology stepped in to provide expertise and insights.

Access to Innovation

Unlocking funding can be a crucial element of success for decarbonisation projects and EA Technology are experts in obtaining this for community projects. In a project for Ambition North Wales, a partnership of six local authorities in North Wales – as well as Bangor University, Glyndwr University, Coleg Cambria and Grwp Llandrillo Menai – managed to secure £380,000 from the UK Government's Community Renewal Fund. The money was granted to carry out feasibility studies of a Smart Local Energy System for the following local authority areas:

Isle of Anglesey local authority area

Gwynedd local authority area

Denbighshire local authority area

Wrexham local authority area

The overarching objective was to attract over £1bn in investment to foster a dynamic, sustainable, and resilient economy in North Wales. Within this initiative, EA Technology was commissioned by Ambition North Wales to identify and showcase opportunities for Smart Local Energy Systems (SLES) in each local authority area. SLES endeavour to optimise energy supply and demand within a designated region for the benefit of the local community.

The result was a comprehensive feasibility study identifying the case for a SLES in each local authority area, highlighting the specific needs to be addressed and the opportunities that can be exploited. This culminated in proposed options for pilot SLES delivery, capable of supporting local decarbonisation, economic growth, and addressing market failures, thereby attracting private and community sector investments in intelligent local energy solutions.

In a similar project while working with National Grid Electricity Distribution (NGED), a Distribution Network Operator (DNO) serving the Midlands and South West of England and the south of Wales, EA Technology installed monitoring equipment into 200 NGED low voltage (LV) substations within the Shropshire and Herefordshire areas. This project funded by the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) aimed to eliminate barriers for growth and identify opportunities for development in the Marches Region. As such, the Marches LEP wanted to understand more about local grid constraints that could increase the cost of timescales for communities or businesses to connect their low carbon projects.

To ensure the project aligned with the Marches LEP's mission of developing the region, EA Technology's first step was to understand the existing projects that could benefit from increased knowledge of their connections to the grid. In collaboration with NGED planners, EA Technology engaged with local communities and businesses to identify projects and initiatives that could profit from increased network monitoring. These endeavours served as case studies, demonstrating best practices for LV monitoring deployment to inform about potential connection constraints and network usage.

To facilitate transparent analysis for all stakeholders involved, EA Technology provided access to the Detect monitoring platform, providing real-time information from the installed VisNet Hubs. This approach allowed NGED and the participating projects to monitor their local network connections promptly, identifying available capacity on the network.

EA Technology can support local authorities in curating an actionable plan that will unlock funding for decarbonisation projects, along with bolstering their electrical networks for long term health and efficiency. One of the key aspects in getting the drive to net zero right, is to partner with experts in the industry, and embrace collaboration to achieve your goals and targets.

Ben Taylor is a Senior Consultant at EA Technology

For more information about EA Technology's products and services, please visit www.eatechnology.com

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