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New tool to help Local Authorities site solar and wind projects

A new tool has been created that will allow local authorities across London and the South East  to identify where best to locate new green energy projects such as wind and solar farms.

This project has been led by Anglia Ruskin University and University of East Anglia, supported by UK Power Networks’ Distribution System Operator (DSO) and the Greater South East Net Zero Hub.

black solar panels on purple flower field during daytime

The Energy Data Taskforce, commissioned by Government, Ofgem, and Innovate UK, has set out five key recommendations (listed below) which aim to help modernise the UK energy system, the prospect of which  is being hindered by poor quality, inaccurate, or missing data, while valuable data is often restricted or hard to find. 

  • Digitalisation of the Energy System
  • Maximising the Value of Data
  • Visibility of Data
  • Coordination of Asset Registration
  • Visibility of Infrastructure and Assets 

UK Power Networks, which distributes electricity in the South East, has combined 18 datasets in one place to help guide local authorities in finding future sites for community-owned wind and solar farms.

The IRENES (Integrating RENewable energy and Ecosystem Services in environmental and energy policies) tool kit can be found here.

The tool combines spatial and land use datasets for ground-based solar PV and onshore wind, over 18,000m², taking into account relevant details such as  Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and solar irradiance data, along with the existing local electricity network.

The data can be filtered and layered with other datasets in UK Power Networks’ Open Data Portal, to view the energy capacity currently available. Users can generate an easy-to-understand map, with traffic light colour coding showing locations for new projects.

Lynne McDonald, head of Local Net Zero at UK Power Networks’ Distribution System Operator said: “’This partnership showcases our DSO’s collaboration across sectors to support local authorities in easily accessing essential data for their decarbonisation plans.

‘It’s been a fantastic opportunity to exchange knowledge with our colleagues in energy, data and academia. We encourage local authorities to make the most of this new tool, shape our network investments and drive sustainable change together – empowered by data and digital tools for effective, place-based decision-making.’

Peter Gudde, Net Zero programme lead at Greater South East Net Zero Hub said: ‘The Greater South East Net Zero Hub has been supporting the development of the IRENES Land Use Tool to enable locally developed renewable energy generation.

‘We are pleased to see collaboration between two of the South East region’s leading universities and UK Power Networks Distribution System Operator in support of the public sector and their area commitments to facilitate Net Zero. We look forward building upon that cross-sector working relationship.’

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