BEIS and city councils on the Net Zero challenge

Queen's Quay Energy Centre - Clydebank, Glasgow (Vital Energi)

The first in our '2021 energy and sustainability' series brought together the Head of Local Energy from the BEIS, Patrick Allcorn, with Tom Warburton, Director of City Futures at Newcastle City Council and the Chief Executive of Warrington Council, Professor Steve Broomhead, as well Vital Energi's Managing Director for the North and Midlands, Mike Cooke and Alister Kratt, Director and leader of LDA Design's energy and infrastructure teams. We are discussing a range of sustainability and green energy themes in the run-up to COP 26 in Glasgow later this year.

This debate asked questions around how local authorities can create sustainable heat and waste networks/plants to cut city emissions, how appropriate infrastructure planning can aid this, how councils can work with private finance to achieve their net zero goals, how new technologies can be embedded effectively to curb emissions and keep costs low as well as the impact that some new energy installations might have on our environments.

Developing complex heat and waste projects for local authorities sustainably was tackled first in our debate. When asked about its partnership with French global energy company Engie, Tom Warburton of Newcastle described the journey the council had taken:

'Back in the days of regional development agencies we had a big regeneration site of 24 acres in the city centre then called Science Central but now branded the Helix. We wanted to produce an exemplar of sustainability practice with a combined heat and power plant to serve both offices and residential. We were going to do a standard approach in procurement terms but it can be an expensive process with a lot of money and time spent on legal fees. So rather than do a one off for one site we thought we would go for a structure of a single long term frame work with one partner who was procured at high value to do more energy work across the city in future. This made the procurement of project one very complex but we eventually got there. We have finished project one - the Helix site - and we are using the district heat network. We have recently won £27.5 million from the government programme for public buildings to do another site and we got this partly because Engie has the skill-set to help with both the application for funding and with carrying out the energy projects.'