If we are going to achieve national net-zero, large scale renewable energy generation is essential. Many local authorities have recognised this and are exploring opportunities for their areas, developing or purchasing solar farms of their own. Done well, this has two positive and tangible benefits; reducing carbon and emissions and producing a healthy income through sound and ethical commercial ventures.
The Welsh Government Energy Service (WGES) provides a great example of how local leadership can catalyse renewable delivery. Since its inception in April 2018, WGES has delivered more than 60 clean energy projects. This has prevented the release of 250,000 tonnes of CO2e into the atmosphere and delivered financial savings or income to the public sector of more than £75m.
Reviewing assets for wind and solar energy generation potential is a relatively straightforward process. However, such schemes involve multi-million pound investments and authorities need high-quality advice. It is important to understand commercial viability at an early stage and having appropriate forecasts for income are critical to long-term success. Local Partnerships is well-placed to assist with modelling and forecasting the viability of such investments.
Commercial developers may widen the range of opportunities and may be able to offer developed sites – ready to build or already constructed – if the authority doesn’t have a location of its own.
Another consideration is how authorities might use the power generated from new assets. Considerable financial and emissions benefits can be achieved if the authority can use the power directly or sell it directly to big power users in the area.
Local Partnerships’ staff include experienced wind and solar developers. We can help you make sense of your opportunities and support you in making the best decisions for your authority. In partnership with the Local Government Association we will be sharing our insights and expertise through the LGA’s Good Practice Guide on Renewable Energy, due for publication in the summer. It will help local government capitalise on the opportunity to drive commercial return and make a vital contribution to UK energy decarbonisation.