At our last LASER customer meeting in London Andy Morgan, LASER’s Head of Energy Management, presented on the opportunities for public bodies to work together to deliver large scale new renewable energy projects. LASER, owned by Kent County Council and Public Power Solutions (PPS), owned by Swindon Borough Council are working in partnership with other public bodies wanting to produce or buy renewable energy. Councils and other public bodies are increasingly taking a long term strategic outlook on energy use.
The key drivers are three fold:
- to minimise the financial impacts of rising energy prices
- to secure low carbon or renewable energy sources
- to demonstrate leadership in a changing energy landscape
These drivers coupled with public bodies’ capability to take a long term view and access to low cost capital put them in a unique position to build or invest directly in new energy generation. This could entail solar farms on council-owned land, direct investment in offshore wind farms, building heat networks or simply committing to take renewable electricity at a long term fixed price. The ambition and commitment is clear from many public bodies but few have navigated their way through all the complexities to deliver new projects. The key barriers that people are facing include:
- Lack of in-house expertise to identify best potential opportunities.
- Experience and capacity to build complex business cases.
- Complex financial modelling with many unknowns.
- Extensive stakeholder engagement including the public, landowners and Councillors.
- Procurement of contractors to deliver all stages from initial feasibility, construction to ongoing operation.
- No long-term guarantees of the value of energy produced.
Working together public bodies can overcome these barriers. For example:
- PPS has experience of waste to energy and solar farm construction. They have in place OJEU compliant frameworks which public bodies can utilise to procure contractors, as well as in-house capability to help build feasibility and business cases.
- LASER has in place OJEU compliant frameworks to manage the energy generated and to sleeve that power to public bodies under long term power Purchase Agreements. LASER can also ‘match make’ across their wide customer base to help public sector landowners, investors or renewable energy buyers get the best deal.
A number of public bodies have engaged with us to explore the potential particularly around solar farms, if you would like to know more or discuss the possibilities please contact Andy Morgan on firstname.lastname@example.org.