Future Ready

Collaborative Local Energy Optimisation

Project Data

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Collaborative Local Energy Optimisation (CLEO) will develop a self-service digital tool that enables local authorities to make the best choices for their communities in developing the Local Area Energy Plan. It uses a structured process to help achieve the Net Zero targets of local authorities. A modest estimate of the social benefits to accrue over the duration of RIIO-ED2 is savings to LA in the region of £13,620,000.

What is the project about?

Around 100 of the 127 Local Authorities (LAs) in the UK Power Networks region have declared a climate emergency. Sixty-six of these have an accelerated target to achieve Net Zero by 2030. Ofgem has set the expectation that local plans should be used to inform network planning and justify the capital investment. LAs have a different understanding of their needs and what plans would best suit the customers and communities in that area. This is a complex, time consuming and resource-intensive process.

Many LAs lack the expertise and experience to identify, assess or consider the energy and technology impact on their development plans and vice versa. An effective Local Area Energy Plan (LAEP) requires the integration of various data sources and balancing various dependencies and constraints to achieve Net Zero goals. LAs also face difficulties in assessing the impact that the energy plans have on social equality and the capacity to engage effectively with other local, regional, and national energy system stakeholders.

UK Power Networks is building a team that will assist its LAs on their climate plans each year of RIIO-ED2, offering a three-tiered support service utilising a framework to assess, develop action plans and deliver investments where a prescribed level of certainty is achieved. This team and the LAs they serve will require tools and data to perform this activity and collaborate effectively. This project will develop and deliver a Collaborative Local Energy Optimisation (CLEO) tool to assist these activities.

How we’re doing it

CLEO will develop a digital tool that allows LAs and their energy planners to layer local input such as decarbonisation strategies and action plans, local market trends, social inclusion policies and transport plans upon our network infrastructure data. This approach will develop optimum LAEP options for their communities and accelerate their local energy planning. It will provide the foundational features and functions to support UK Power Networks’ evolving three-tiered support service and our growing LAEP team.

The project will achieve these outcomes by allowing LAs and other energy system stakeholders to rapidly evaluate different approaches to deploying Low Carbon Technologies (LCT). It achieves this by digitally and geo-spatially modelling the relative impacts and determining the best approach to suit individual LAs, their communities and potential investors. In addition, a social impact assessment capability will be included allowing LAEP options to be sensitivity tested against their impact on social considerations such as poverty and vulnerable customers.

The outputs from the tool will facilitate the efficient and effective development of a LAEP which, in turn, will increase confidence in plans and better inform network operators’ load-related expenditure. To ensure high engagement of stakeholders throughout the process, an agile and incremental software development approach will be used. This will ensure that LAs and other energy system stakeholders can regularly test the solution being developed to ensure it is fit for its purpose. A modular and flexible design will be adopted to ensure the tool can be further improved and developed as the LAEP service evolves and the team grows throughout the RIIO-ED2 period.

What makes it innovative

This project is innovative as it seeks to engage with LAs, their energy planners and other energy system stakeholders to understand and directly tackle the challenge of the diversity of needs and capabilities at a regional, local and community level to enable efficient and effective local authority energy planning through provision of digital capabilities based on real-world data sets. The primary focus of this project is to meet the needs of LAs, address any capability gaps and accelerate their Net Zero strategies.

From a network operator perspective, we expect that the project, and the tool delivered, will improve our confidence levels when using LAEPs to inform our network planning and investment strategies. It will also provide valuable insights on the variances between LAs across UK Power Networks’ three licence areas that will allow these differences to be factored into our forecasts, including our Distributed Future Energy Scenarios (DFES).

What we’re learning

During the project, we expect to learn about:

  1. The benefits and challenges involved in closely involving LAs, their energy planners and other energy system stakeholders in the software design and development process and learn about their preferences and behaviours to better gain their participation in future projects.
  2. The features, functions, data sets, and outputs needed for a digital tool that will assist a LAs and their energy planners develop a LAEP.
  3. The tools and solutions currently available to LAs and their energy planners for supporting LAEP development and the features and functions that these stakeholders value.
  4. Any common preferences across LAs, their energy planners and other energy system stakeholders in terms of what makes a good LAEP and determine how the ESC methodology and LAEP definition can be applied to meet the needs of stakeholders.
  5. How confidence in LAEPs can be robustly assessed by DNOs/DSOs and which LAEP outputs will support and inform load-related network investment decisions.
  6. How internal DNO/DSO processes need to change to accommodate a more efficient and effective way of supporting LAEP development and local energy systems.

Insights gained will be frequently published online and via social media throughout the project, and opportunities to disseminate via events and print media will continuously be sought.

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