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Blue Light services face a unique road to net zero: electric fleets, aging infrastructure, and funding hurdles. In this blog, we explore the net zero journey that lies ahead for this sector, sharing challenges, insights and considerations.

Blue Light Net Zero Emissions: How the Blue Light Sector is Taking Action

The Blue Light sector, which includes Police, Fire and Ambulance services, faces unique challenges in their journey to net zero, including electrifying the fleets, funding access and ageing estates. Therefore, this sector requires a specific approach to adapt their functioning to reach net zero. In this article we want to examine the road that lies ahead for Blue Light services, sharing challenges, insights, and considerations.

The Struggle for funding

The Blue Light sector has previously struggled to obtain funding for decarbonisation works, with only 3.3% of the £369m from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme (PSDS) Phase 3b funding being awarded to 5 Blue Light recipients. One of these five, Northumbria Police, used LASER’s CDI DPS framework to procure Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHPs), partially decarbonising the heating demands of their estate. PSDS Phase 3c figures have not been released as of yet, but further rounds of PSDS are upcoming, with Government announcing £1.17 Billion in PSDS funding for financial years 2025/26 – 2027/28. These future rounds represent key opportunities for Blue Light organisations to decarbonise their estates. PSDS has become focused on heat decarbonisation through Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHPs), often in combination with insulation measures, LED lighting, or solar PV panels. Therefore, if installing these types of technologies is of interest to a Blue Light organisation, PSDS should be a focus of future funding planning.

The EV Transition

Electrification of vehicles is a key challenge as they have a variety of vehicle types and services that will complicate the transition to EVs. For example, it may not currently be viable to electrify all Police pursuit vehicles, as current models do not have sufficient range for long-distance pursuits. This is also the case for patrol vehicles that must be driving for extended periods of time. Therefore, fully electrified Police Fleets would require a significant shift in policing strategies. Additionally, these new fleets require large investment, and if a current fleet is not at its end-of-life, the already limited budgets will likely be used for other more pressing issues, and not for investing in EVs. Without concentrated funding, this EV transition will likely be gradual for the Blue Light sector.

Collaboration is Key

Another key aspect is the focus on collaboration between organisations, with the group procurement processes allowing for knowledge and resources to be shared between organisations. Blue Light organisations are at a range of stages in their journey to net zero, and collaboration helps to highlight key areas that require improvement. When collaborating, Blue Light organisations can facilitate the sharing of knowledge and resource, as well as helping to identify any key areas to address. An example of this collaboration is the creation of the ‘Sustainability and Decarbonisation’ task force by 7Forces Commercial Services.

This involves all key members from both the Fire and Police departments, as well as public sector knowledge from us at LASER and private organisations. This collaboration was created was to foster relationships between the Police forces of Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent, Norfolk, Suffolk, and Surrey. The 7Forces Commercial Services team contacted Essex and Kent Fire services and they decided to also have roadmaps produced under the same contract. The priority of this taskforce was to review the groups estates and fleet. This review included surveys of sites and feasibility studies for technologies such as LED lights and EV Chargers, with the result being individual carbon roadmaps for each police force. Our experience facilitating the collaboration of the 7Forces group has demonstrated LASER’s flexibility and knowledge, allowing for great progress to be made within the group. As the forces now each have a clear and detailed carbon roadmap, they are aware of the actions needed, and LASER will be able to assist in their procurement process for the solutions.

At LASER, we completed these site surveys and studies, ultimately producing separate carbon roadmaps for each of the forces. This project achieved ‘Highly Commended’ at the GO Awards in June 2023 in the ‘Collaborative Procurement Project’ and ‘Best Net Zero Initiative’ categories.

Power Purchase Agreements

PPAs are another vital part of the net zero puzzle and are only possibly for Blue Light organisations through collaboration, as their energy demands are too small individually to go to market. PPAs are long term energy contracts, usually 10-15 years long, with a fixed energy price. This protects from market volatility and allows for future budget certainty, as well as decarbonising the energy supply of a group of blue light organisations. PPAs are contractually complex, however they present long-term carbon benefits and potential cost benefits, and therefore working with regional partners can help to accelerate the transition to net-zero for participating organisations.

We recently hosted a PPA workshop with the National Fire Chiefs Council, with the Emergency Services Collaboration Working Group (ESCG) and National Police Estates Group (NPEG) also invited. In this we shared the benefits of utilising PPAs and our expertise of organising PPA’s for a variety of our customers.

Your Net-Zero guides

At LASER we have a wealth of experience and expertise to assist your Blue Light organisation in reaching net-zero by providing an end-to-end solution through creating and reviewing carbon roadmaps, procuring energy and technologies, and collaborative PPA procurement to decarbonise energy supply.

We understand that energy and net zero procurement can be a challenge as it involves liaising with suppliers, ensuring security clearance and more. We can manage the entire procurement process for you, providing a simple and efficient route to market. As our Zero Carbon Framework, CDI DPS, is a flexible framework, any suppliers, including those that are approved for security clearance, can apply to the framework, potentially speeding up the procurement process for a Blue Light organisation.

From initial roadmaps, through to the procurement of technologies, and decarbonisation of energy supply through PPAs, we can help your Blue Light organisation on its net zero journey.

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