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Urban energy revolution: new infrastructure and investment

Both the UK Government department BEIS and Arup have been speaking at our Healthy Cities forum on the challenges for the energy industry as we move towards a lower carbon society and what this means for local authorities and investors.

Patrick Allcorn, Head of Local Energy at the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) explained that it is not just how councils manage now, but through the move to electric heating in homes and electric vehicle charging infrastructure, that is important.

'Almost every city has energy constraints, and the challenge is how we move towards electric heating and electric vehicles with additional demands on supply. We are delivering the next round of strategic investment for DNOs (District Network Operators) and making these organisations into service operators,so that they can invest in demand side management. This will let them work with communities and organisations in reducing energy consumption.

'We are collaborating with city councils - including West Midlands Combined Authority and Bristol - for instance - on pilot projects to find ways to invest ahead of time, so there are no blocks to regeneration or threats to the operations of emergency services, as we move towards new energy systems.'

Patrick gave a clear message about funding saying that there's a balance in making funding available from government and taking money from the customer. Please see video clip above of him explaining.

Alan Thomson, Leader of Arup's Global Energy Systems business, talked about the complexity of our energy provision and the relationship between legacy energy and renewables innovation.

'We have multiple vectors knitting together to provide heat and power. Natural gas is vital and hydrogen is starting to be seen as a viable replacement for carbon energy like gas, but we need to look at shifting our summer energy generation to winter use. Mobility and transport are now part of the energy debate, and this will have an urban resilience impact if cities don't get the approach right.'

'The Industrial Strategy Fund is focused on knowledge capture and systems (for future energy technology) but scale-ability and how you replicate, is vital.'

Alan also talked about the need to include behavioural psychology in creating more thoughtful energy use, and the role that rewards might play in this. Please watch Alan talking below:

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