Local energy plans

What is a community-led Local Energy Plan?

Community-led Local Energy Plans are developed by local people who have an interest in the community including local residents, businesses and community organisations and are developed in collaboration with other stakeholders such as the local authority, the distribution network operator and local generators.

A community-led Local Energy Plan enables the local community to look at its existing and future energy needs (in terms of power, heat and transport) and state where it sees priorities for action. It also identifies opportunities that can help the community take practical action to support its current and future energy system developments.

As local community plans they tend to focus on smaller geographical areas, but can benefit, and indeed support, other local, regional, and national strategies. We encourage any community considering undertaking developing a community-led Local Energy Plan to engage with their Local Authority to understand how the plan can integrate into the wider strategic plans that exist.

What is the COBEN Programme?

The approach to developing Community-led Local Energy Plans has been developed as part of the Delivering COmmunity BENefits of Civic Energy (COBEN) project. The Scottish pilot has developed the approach to be part of a whole system approach where communities’ energy generation, energy efficiency, heat, transport, storage and future usage needs are considered together. Read more about the COBEN project.

Local Energy Scotland led the Scottish pilot to develop and implement community-led local energy plans for four local communities in the Scottish Highlands and Islands Enterprise Region and to developed a common local energy plan methodology and supporting toolkit. The pilot was funded through the COBEN project (Delivering Community Benefits of Civic Energy), an EU Interreg (North Sea Region) funded programme, and supported by 50% match funding through the Scottish Government’s Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES).

Where are the pilot areas?

The four locations are:

The locations were chosen to reflect the range in sizes, locations, attributes and challenges that communities have across the Highlands and Islands. You can read the plans for each area by selecting the area above. The plans were all completed in July 2018.

The development of the energy plan for each area has been led by a local steering group of community representatives and representatives from the local authority, Home Energy Scotland and Local Energy Scotland. 

Guide to developing community-led local energy plans

A guide to developing community-led local energy plans has been developed to support communities and other stakeholders understand what is involved and how to go about developing a local energy plan. The guide is supported by a toolkit that provides additional guidance, templates and example materials developed as part of the pilot.

Are there other examples of local energy plans?

The Scottish Government’s approach to local energy planning is focused on where they have devolved powers: heat and energy efficiency. Local Heat and Energy Efficiency Strategies (LHEES) form the basis of planning and delivering local energy systems in Scotland, led by the local authority, and involve engagement across multiple stakeholders, including community groups. However, there is scope to go beyond this to consider the whole energy system, including energy generation, distribution, storage and transport.

There are a number of different strategic approaches to taking forward plans that encompass whole energy system, available to local energy planning. A community-led approach is one such approach that can be of benefit in parallel, and indeed support, other local, regional and national strategies.

Here are two examples of approaches to local energy planning in the UK:

• Fife Council wanted to understand how Burntisland could reduce its carbon footprint by 80% and lead the development of the Burntisland Community Energy Masterplan

• Local Area Energy Plans have been piloted in England and Wales by the Energy Systems Catapult project in Bury (Greater Manchester), Bridgend (Wales) and Newcastle. This project established a planning framework to help local government, energy networks and other key stakeholders prepare for a low carbon future. More information is on the Energy Systems Catapult website