Climate action: energy

How are we integrating sustainability and resilience into energy plans?

Climate change hub

LGA resources 

Re:fit programme

Re:fit programme, run by Local Partnerships and funded through the LGA's Sector Led Improvement grant, this programme helps councils implement energy efficiency and local energy generation measures to their buildings or their estate.

The potential for energy efficiency and renewable energy

The potential for energy efficiency and renewable energy (PDF) - Councils have long been at the forefront of the move to a low carbon economy by adopting energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies. This has already led to impressive cost savings and a wide range of additional benefits. As local government continues to suffer cuts to its budgets there is an even stronger incentive for councils to maximise the potential for energy-related income and savings. The following report sets out the scale of the financial opportunities available to councils from energy efficiency and renewable energy sources.


Case studies

Councils are taking action to reduce their own carbon emissions and working with partners and local communities to tackle the impact of climate change on their local area. Below are examples of innovative case studies and ongoing projects from councils in specific areas. 

If you have a case study or piece of notable practice which you'd like to share with us, please fill out a case study template and submit it via email to climate@local.gov.uk, or simply email us with a few lines about what you’re up to. 

Energy project in Rother District Council

The full case study is available to read on the energy project in Rother District Council

Portsmouth City Council's savings on energy bills

The full case study is available to read on Portsmouth City Council's savings on energy bills


Notable practice

Bedford Borough Council

Region East of England

Target declared climate emergency and became carbon neutral by 2030

Project published a carbon management plan in 2011 and target to reduce carbon emissions by 40%. Pioneered schemes including a heat exchanger system in a local crematorium and an evaporative cooling project in 2012.

Carbon saving reduced carbon emissions by over 50%

Further information is available.

Tower Hamlets Council

Region Greater London

Target declared a climate emergency and target to be net zero emissions by 2025

Project Tower Hamlets council, which has set a target of net zero emissions by 2025, is using its carbon offset payments to fund a schools Energy Retrofit Programme, providing grants to schools to reduce their energy consumption. Schools are expected to save £5,400 on energy bills a year and reduce carbon emissions by an average of 53% a year. The council is also undertaking a phased programme to replace all street lighting with LED lighting, which will save for the council £2.7 million by 2020

Related costs £24,0000 grant programme and schools expected to save £4,700 on energy bills yearly

Carbon saving Reduce carbon emissions by average 53% per annum

Further information is available.

Durham County Council

Region North East

Project Continued support for SME business, through the Business Energy Efficiency Project (BEEP), (£1.7 million EU investment for Durham SME’s) and development of proposals for district heating networks in Durham City.

Launch of a Single Use Plastics Pledge which over 250 individuals and organisations have signed up for.

LED lighting replacements for 17,000 streetlights, Gala Theatre and a number of council owned buildings including schools.

A move to greater numbers of electric vehicles including the council's 26 pool cars. The first two electric vehicles for our service fleet were introduced to operations in January 2020.

A substantial programme of tree planting supported by successful schemes such as the £820 000 Woodland Revival and £1million Urban Tree Challenge Fund, as well as new schemes such as a commitment to plant 10,000 trees in each Area Action Partnership area. In total this would be an estimated 358,000 trees on top of the estimated 953,142 from 2000 to date.

The council (measured in 2018/19) has already reduced its carbon footprint by 47% from 2008/9 levels.

A £3million additional support for new climate change projects (in addition to existing commitments, European funded and invest to save projects).

Our Climate Action Plan is due to go before Cabinet on the 12th of February.

Further information is available.

Greater Manchester Combined Authority

Region North West

Target Carbon Neutral City Region by 2038

Project Published a strategy in Feb 2019 in partnership with the Tyndall centre for climate change lead organisations on UK climate change. Growth in line with their Local Industrial Strategy.

Related costs 45 MW additional low carbon power. 10.3 TWh of additional low carbon heat.

Further information is available.

Oldham Council

Region North West

Target Declared a climate emergency and make the council carbon neutral by 2025

Project Developing the Oldham Code, requiring better insulation, harvesting rainwater, and high efficiency heating based on a project called Rethinking Electricity Distribution Without Load Following (RED WoLF). This is the design of an all-electric heating system, combining solar cell renewable energy generation with battery storage and modern storage heaters.

Further information is available.

Warrington Borough Council

Region North West

Target Declared a climate emergency and be carbon neutral by 2030

Project Warrington borough council is building a major solar power project across two sites at York and Hull to produce green electricity to power the equivalent of 18,000 homes. The York site will consist of a 34.7MWp hybrid solar farm plus a 27MW battery storage system. The whole site will have a 25.7MWp solar farm, will provide all the council’s electricity needs and will cut energy bills by £2 million a year. Both projects will cost a total of £62 million, generate £150 million over 30 years and save 31,000 tonnes of carbon emissions (based on replacing a combined cycle gas turbine power station)

Related costs £62.34 million cost and will generate a surplus of £150 million over 30 years

Carbon saving 31, 000 (based on replacing a CCGT power station)

Further information is available.

Kent County Council

Region South East

Target declared a climate change emergency and countywide target of net zero emissions by 2050. Zero waste to landfill by 2020.

Project Worked with Salix Finance who provided an interest-free loan to upgrade 120,000 streetlights to LED lighting. The loan is usually repaid from energy savings within a 5 year period (projects exceeding this will repay more per annum than the energy savings or can be part funded).

Related costs The cost of CO2e must be less than £191 per tonne over the lifetime of the project.

Further information is available.

Runnymede Borough Council

Region South East

Project Reduce demand for energy and lower carbon dioxide emissions

Further information is available.

West Sussex County Council

Region South East

Target In 2011, West Sussex County Council committed to reducing its carbon footprint by 50% by 2022. By 2018/19 it had achieved a 46% reduction in its carbon emissions from its original baseline. its annual sustainability report shows how they achieved this. In April 2019, WSCC's Full Council passed a motion pledging to try to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2030.

Project West Sussex County Council has installed solar panels on 80 schools to generate zero-carbon electricity and help them reduce their energy bills and impact on the environment. The schools simply purchase the green electricity from the council at a reduced rate compared to the electricity they would usually buy from the National Grid. This will lower school energy bills by £2,000 per year on average and save the County Council’s overall school energy budget £158,000 in the first year. These savings will increase over time as the cost of grid electricity rises.  This complements a Salix-funded programme of energy efficiency projects in West Sussex schools, including low-energy lighting upgrades.

Related costs Installation at no cost to the schools and council meet operation and maintenance costs.

Further information is available.

South Somerset District Council

Region South West

Target declared a climate emergency

Project Council has partnered with Opium Power Limited to create a new 25MW battery storage facility to provide power assistance to the national grid. This went live in March 2019

Related costs Invested £9.8 million

Further information is available.

Telford and Wrekin Council

Region West Midlands

Target declared a climate emergency and target to be carbon neutral by 2030 and free of single use plastic by 2023

Project Built a 4MW solar farm that powers 800 homes per annum and is expected to create a profit of £5 million over 25 years

Further information is available.


Resources from elsewhere

Energy Systems Catapult - Local Area Energy Planning (2018)

Energy Systems Catapult (ESC) have created a guide for energy planning in local areas as a way of mitigating and adapting to climate change. They cover the importance of energy planning and provide a seven-step process to create successful energy plans in the local area. This would help focus resources on ensuring that each local area in the UK is on track to meet their decarbonisation targets.

Cornwall Council and Citizen's Advice - Local Authority Toolkit: Supporting Fuel Poor and Vulnerable Households (2018)

Cornwall Council and Citizen’s Advice have collaborated to create a toolkit for local authorities and third sector partners to work together to reduce fuel poverty. This toolkit provides local authorities advice on how they can use energy efficiency to support vulnerable households. The guidance suggests how local authorities can use the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) to declare certain households’ requirement to meet the eligibility criteria for affordable warmth. 

Centre for Sustainable Energy - Local Sustainability Energy Assessment Matrix (2017)

The CSE have designed this assessment matrix to help local authorities and other local energy actors to assess their area’s current performance and identify opportunities for improvement. The assessment matrix has five dimensions of action: domestic sector energy, commercial sector energy, fuel poverty, low carbon energy infrastructure and institutional ecosystem.

Good Homes Alliance - Overheating in New Homes (2019)

The Good Homes Alliance have created a toolkit on identifying indicators for overheating in homes, considering that overheating is set to increase with climate change. This toolkit provides 14 key questions that are key factors to tackling overheating and notably mention that providing cooling is not the solution. The toolkit also provides potential next steps, based on the level of risk estimated, as well as a detailed design guidance and risk assessment. 

Local Partnerships: Street Lighting Toolkit 

Given the significant cost and energy savings achieved from energy efficient lighting at a local level, Local Partnerships has developed a Street Lighting Toolkit (PDF), working closely with the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the Department for Transport and other stakeholders. This will provide guidelines and a structured approach and process to support councils with energy efficient street lighting projects.

Local Partnerships and Cornwall Energy: Guidance for Local Government

Across Britain, councils are taking action to boost renewable generation, improve energy security, lower energy bills and support community economies by seizing opportunities to get involved with energy supply. By doing so, they provide customers with an alternative to the big utility companies and are capitalising on emerging trends in energy production and transportation. These place locally-focused energy ventures centre stage. 

Simply, we hope that this guidance (PDF) will:

  • broaden comprehension within local government of the options available to them in developing a long term energy strategy for their organisation.

In doing so:

  • understanding the commercial opportunity available through becoming a local energy supplier
  • increase indirectly the investment in low carbon technologies through more lucrative commercial options
  • awareness of what time and resources are necessary to do this

By developing a fully-rounded appreciation of the various options available to it, local government can make appropriate and informed choices as to what the right energy strategy is for them, consistent with the values, policies and strategies of their council.