Lack of data access impact council’s climate actions

As many as 60 per cent of UK local authorities have difficulty accessing the data they need to make informed and effective decisions that will support the development of local energy projects.

Energy Systems Catapult says that it is their understanding that most local authorities have access to a wide range of data sources such as; GIS data, housing data and energy data, that are needed to enable local energy project development and implementation. However, the level of granularity of the data and the lack of tools and expertise that are needed to analyse the data sets to provide the evidence and demonstrate the benefits these projects can deliver needs addressing.

While working with a number of local authorities to develop Smart Local Energy Systems (SLES), the Catapult has identified the need for both national and local initiatives not only to improve data access and availability, but also to build or acquire the skills needed to process that data to inform investment and planning decisions.

The organisation’s report identifies some key recommendations for local and national government, network companies and energy developers in the drive to Net Zero. These include: BEIS and Ofgem supporting opening the data retained by the Smart Energy Research Lab to business entities; local authorities and Energy Network Operators focusing on making data as open as possible whilst protecting privacy and security; and local authorities partnering and collaborating across other regions, as well as with skills and resources within their areas such as universities, and organisations involved in SLES projects, to overcome the lack of skills, expertise and resources to collect, analyse and interpret data to provide insight on what projects are best suited to meet the net zero target.

Eric Brown, Chief Technology Officer at Energy Systems Catapult said: “Local authorities have a pivotal role to play in achieving Net Zero but they need access to data of sufficient quality and granularity to enable them to act successfully. Smart local energy systems will be an important part of this.

“Not only do they address climate objectives, they can also deliver economic and social benefits and help build stronger, more resilient communities. Data is necessary to support good investment decision making and importantly this data must take both national and local perspectives if expected outcomes are to be delivered.”