Open data to kick start net zero plans

Open data plans

Local authorities can now fast-track their plans to achieve net zero since UK Power Networks made it easier to access the data they need to deliver the transition.

The pioneering approach to data is providing 100 data sets all in one place. In partnership with local authorities including Essex County Council and the Greater London Authority, UK Power Networks has identified a series of data sets needed by local authorities to inform net zero plans. They are available for anyone to use, on UK Power Networks’ Open Data Portal and will be continuously updated.

Taking a data-driven, evidence-based approach will help uncover the most cost-effective route for communities to contribute towards meeting net zero by 2050. For example, local authorities will now be able to understand the best place to connect renewable energy generators as well as what type of energy generation will be most effective in their neighbourhoods, whether that is solar, wind or battery.

Data sets ranging from wind speeds, flood zones and socio-economic data to electricity network maps and information showing where there is extra electrical capacity, are free to use. The majority of the information on the portal is coming from partners, highlighting the importance of working collaboratively and going beyond the energy industry. Having truly open, local, data such as this all-in-one place will help local authorities understand where to start and what factors they need to consider in order to reach net zero quickly and cost-effectively.

Access to socio-economic data such as employment rates, age and health conditions alongside energy information will enable local authorities to build this information into their models in order to identify opportunities to:

  • Boost local economies, encouraging investment such as installing electric vehicle charge points
  • Improve the local environment, for example installing more low carbon technologies improving air quality and reducing noise pollution
  • Deliver cheaper, greener energy for local homes and businesses, achieving net zero at the lowest cost

With 127 local authorities operating in London, the East and South East, 80% have declared climate emergencies, with 87% aiming to become carbon neutral before 2050.

Releasing this data forms part of the Open Energy Data programme carried out in partnership with Regen, an ambitious programme to uncover truly open energy data for all to use in the transition to net zero. It is also the first step as part of a larger movement of proactive engagement UK Power Networks is undertaking with local authorities to ensure they have the tools they need to overcome challenges and deliver a net zero future for all.

Lynne McDonald, Local Area Energy Planning Manager at UK Power Networks, says: “Stakeholders told us open data sits at the very centre of the transition to net zero and enables them to make the best choices for their local communities. Access to the right data, in the right format is crucial to driving targets and open data like this is unrivalled in the industry. We hope to empower local authorities to take climate action now, giving them the data and digital tools they need to make informed decisions.”

Theo Blackwell, Chief Digital Officer at Greater London Authority, says, “UK Power Networks’ enhanced Open Data Portal supports the Mayor’s push for better data to meet London’s net zero targets. Together with City Hall’s new Planning Datahub and coordinating utility works to ‘dig once’, planning departments can now actively plan for the environmental impacts and contributions of new developments.”

Thomas Day, Head of Energy and Low Carbon Programme at Essex County Council, says, “Good data is essential to plan and target net zero programmes – whether for retrofit, renewable energy, electric vehicle infrastructure, or decarbonising heat. All of these are vitally important challenges not only for net zero but also for growth and levelling up. The initiative by UK Power Networks to bring data together in to one place and make it easier for local authorities to plan our work, engage with local communities and start to explore ‘whole area’ approaches in a more planned and strategic way is vital, to help us with unlocking the potential benefits of the transition to net zero for our residents and our business community.”

Tamsyn Lonsdale-Smith, Project Manager at Regen, says, “My hope is for the Local Area Energy Planning open data page to reach as many local authorities as possible who are just starting out on their data journey into local area energy planning.

“Working with UK Power Networks to put open source data and tools in one place should significantly reduce the amount of time spent during early planning stages.”

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