April 17, 2020
Exeter Net Zero 2030 Plan requires investment in storage
Professor Brian Sturgess

Exeter City has joined a growing number of local authorities in the United Kingdom that are prioritising radical energy solutions to combat climate change. Civic leaders in Exeter have outlined plans to turn the city carbon neutral by 2030 and have identified the need for investment in reduced energy use, storage capacity, cleaner power, electrifying transport and in infrastructure. A formal launch of Exeter’s Net Zero 2030 Plan was due to be made on 23 March, but following its postponement as a result of the corona virus pandemic, it was decided to publish the city’s road map in April nevertheless because of its importance. One of the enabling actions is to “establish world-leading programmes of research and investment into enhanced renewable energy generation and storage…and to ensure that data on sources of energy generation in the city is shared publicly, so consumers are better informed about the breakdown and source of their energy use.”

Consultations on Exeter’s Net Zero Plan began four years ago, but it picked up speed in the summer of 2019 when the city declared a climate emergency. The council then set up a community interest company, tasked to gather views as widely as possible from residents, citizens’ groups and major employers including the Met Office and two NHS trusts which held a workshop in February of this year. Exeter City Futures, which compiled the consultations, estimates that sourcing the city’s power from renewables could cut as much as 53,000 tonnes of CO2e each year, rising to 140,000 tonnes if green generation was maximised to full potential. This will require increased investment in energy storage by businesses, homes and institutions including schools, hospitals and council facilities. A previous report by Exeter City Futures noted that the cost of the UK’s energy system could be reduced by up to £7 billion each year where energy storage is combined with smart grids and demand flexibility. Research carried out in 2017 predicted the city’s energy consumption could grow by 9 per cent to 11.3 TWh by 2025, but less than 3 per cent of its power at that time came from green sources. The road map is intended to spur further discussions and investment. Specific proposals to be compiled by officials will go before councillors in the autumn. “This plan represents the contribution of hundreds of businesses and individuals across Exeter … to ensure it remains one of the best places to live in the UK,” said Liz O’Driscoll, managing director of Exeter City Futures”. The report also recommended that trees planted in parks must receive higher priority as carbon sinks. 


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