The South2East Local Energy Strategy, which will help meet statutory climate change targets for 2032 and 2050, was formally launched on 25 March.
It has been drawn up by the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP), Coast to Capital and Enterprise M3 LEPs, in partnership with Siemens.
Tim Wates, chair, Coast to Capital, oversaw proceedings at the launch event inviting the speakers to address a full auditorium of energy stakeholders from across the Tri-LEP area.
Carl Ennis, managing director, Siemens Energy Management, said: “The South East has the opportunity and the ability to lead in the low carbon economy, not just on a local level but as a beacon for the whole of the UK.”
He highlighted how the area is rich in natural assets, that new technology is becoming viable and key sectors are engaging, while challenges posed by grid constraints could be overcome by creating localised energy sources as emphasised in the strategy.
Katherine Wright, deputy director, public sector and local, BEIS, explained how the UK was a ‘world leader’ on carbon reduction and was the first country to introduce legally-binding carbon reduction targets and said that “we are decarbonising faster than any G20 country since 2020”. This would be 42 per cent by 2020 compared to 2010. In January, the Investing in Local Energy Strategy finance initiative was launched and to date, £7m has been invested in local energy hubs.
Two local projects were highlighted at the launch.
Chris Seamark, of EU-funded LoCASE (Low Carbon Across the South East), described how a grant of around £6m had been used to support more than 1,050 SMEs, cut emissions by 6,150 TCO2, as well as creating 270 new jobs and 77 new businesses. Projects included lights for an indoor bowling club and funding electrical black taxis. A new round of funding gets underway in July.
Tom Coates, of West Sussex County Council, explained how the council has two solar farms including the first non-commercial, subsidy-free farm in the UK, funded by the council through the Public Works Loan Board. Westhampnett Solar Farm, a former landfill site, is a 27, 665 panel, 7.44MW array, which is cutting carbon emissions by 20 per cent. Electricity is sold to generate income.
View the Energy Strategy launch online here.