Value for money: Local authority action on clean energy for net zero

Katherine Sugar*, Janette Webb

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Local authorities are well placed to realise co-benefits of integrated local energy systems; however, in the UK they have no statutory energy mandate. Planning and developing clean energy are discretionary, and persistent budget reductions, combined with the lack of strategic direction from the UK government for more localised energy provision, limit local capacity, expertise and resources. Nevertheless, some local authorities have led energy initiatives but have been unable to stimulate investment at the pace and scale required to align with net zero greenhouse gas targets. Using evidence from such initiatives, this paper discusses the institutional changes needed to enable local authorities to act. It examines existing climate and local energy plans, and their integral socio-economic value. Using this evidence, investment opportunities from locally led net zero programmes are identified. EU technical assistance funds provided a particularly successful route to local energy developments: based on value of investment secured against initial funding, it is estimated that GBP 1 million technical assistance funding to every local authority would lead to GBP 15 billion investment in local energy. Other potential funding innovations are assessed and the paper concludes with recommendations for policy and resource measures needed to convert local ambition into clean energy and energy saving investment at scale.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4359
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2022


  • social value
  • local authority
  • integrated local energy systems
  • net zero energy
  • innovative governance


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