City leaders call for new partnerships to support clean energy

City leaders have called on central and local government to join forces and create new ‘clean energy action partnerships’.

The UK100 group of civic leaders has published a report, which claims by working together, central and local government will be able to develop clean energy projects of ‘sufficient scale and ambition’, as well as unlock much-needed finance.

It also state a move towards local clean energy is essential for the UK’s post-Brexit export strategy and will help improve this country’s energy resilience.

The report also urges Whitehall to put clean and smart energy at the heart of its industrial strategy.

It cites the Heat Network Delivery Unit and the ELENA European programme as good examples of local authorities developing integrated projects.

‘Integrated whole-systems thinking is what clean energy transition requires and local leaders are well-placed to deliver,’ the report states.

‘They think across the whole economy, have levers on a range of sectors that are important to decarbonisation.

‘They are also closer to their community than national government, and are thus able to bring their communities with them, emphasising and wellbeing benefits for their residents and businesses.’

The co-chair of the UK100 group and Peterborough City Council, Cllr John Holdich, added: ‘Cities like Peterborough have been making the most of support such as feed-in-tariffs to clean up our energy supply, but we could do with a much more critical friend to help us develop projects at a bigger scale.

‘We are generating income for the city, encouraging jobs growth and putting money back into community projects.

‘This makes sound business sense. We want UK cities to be global leaders in clean energy industries. We can then export our solutions to the world.’

Local energy companies needed

The UK100 report follows the publication of a new green paper by the Core Cities group, which also calls for more local energy companies.

The paper, entitled Invest Reform Trust, claims more investment is needed to help cities ‘generate more of their own energy’ and adds local energy companies will help improve air quality.

And it cites the work done by several members of the Core Cities group – including Bristol and Nottingham – which already have ‘highly-successful local energy generation and supply companies’.

Renewable energy has also been in the news this week after the government published the details of the successful bids in the second Contracts for Difference (CfD) round.

The price of offshore wind was widely expected to fall in the auction, but the news of a strike price of just £58 per megawatt hour by 2022/23 took many by surprise.

But new analysis by the think tank Green Alliance following the auction results claims delaying any further deployment of renewables in the UK could cost consumers up to £2.6bn more per year in 2025.

By 2030, said the think tank, the benefits of investing in renewable energy could be huge, resulting in consumer savings of more than £5bn.

However, under current plans spending on nuclear power is set to be more than twice that on renewables by 2030, even though the CfD auction proves renewables can provide more power at a lower price.

It adds the UK is able to meet its 2030 carbon targets without further new nuclear power in the 2020s.

‘Since 2015, the UK has been cutting back on renewables just as they’ve become cheap, having previously invested heavily to bring down their costs,’ said senior policy adviser, Chaitanya Kumar.

‘A smarter strategy would be to follow through on the earlier investment and buy more of this cheaper, clean energy, which would keep energy bills down and support new jobs in the renewables industry across the country.’

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Jamie Hailstone

Jamie Hailstone

journalist

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