Examining UK Local Authority clean energy plans and investments
Local Authorities are recognised across the governments of the UK, as critical to climate protection and clean energy commitments. Local strategies can contribute significantly to energy savings in public, commercial and residential buildings; statutory duties, planning and development powers are important in catalysing cross sector innovation for clean energy systems.
There are however, uncertainties about the future structure of local government services, powers and resources, and the local government role in energy systems is uncertain. In this context Local Authorities are increasingly treating energy provision and demand management as a source of revenues and as an agent of transformation across the local social, economic and environmental landscape.
Local engagement in clean energy is a critical topic for society, and needs new policy and more research. It remains an understudied area in social science energy research. There is little empirical evidence about the actual capacity of 21st century UK Local Authorities to engage, or about the suitability of central government policies and institutions for facilitating localised energy provision.
The research: Local Engagement in UK Energy Systems
This research project ran from 2014 to 2018 (following a pilot study in 2013). It aimed to contribute to new knowledge about the capacity of UK Local Authorities to engage with energy. New data generation and analysis focussed on what was currently being done, why and what could be achieved with more supportive policy and resources.
The research contributed:
- the first systematic overview of energy initiatives across the entire population of UK Local Authorities
- in-depth analysis of energy projects, business structures and local solutions to common problems in a cross section of 40 Local Authorities
- a review of Local Authority engagement in energy across Europe
- five recommendations to central and devolved national government to create greater opportunities at local scale
- six actions for Local Authorities to progress action on local energy
You can read more about the findings and recommendations in our main research report here.
You can also for browse material below as well as in the Resources section.
Figure 1: Case study Local Authorities in phase two of the study
We are very grateful to the 49 Local Authority officers who participated in the case study component of the research and kindly completed questionnaires, accepted requests for interviews and provided documents.
Research team: Professor Jan Webb, Dr Dave Hawkey and Mags Tingey. It was co-funded through the UK Energy Research Centre Phase 3 (Research Council UK Energy Programme) and by the Energy Technologies Institute.
Local Engagement in UK Energy Systems