Weighing up Nottingham’s energy future 

Six months on from a workshop about future energy scenarios for Nottingham, a group of local stakeholders gathered together again at Nottingham Conference Centre on 20th September 2016 to resume their conversation. In March 2016, the first workshop helped to agree on a small number of realistic scenarios and ruled others out. In the interim, academics from the University of Nottingham have developed and modelled those scenarios using local data wherever possible.

At this second workshop participants were invited to help weight and rank all the criteria associated with the different scenarios so that a range of economic, social and environmental factors could be taken into consideration. This helped to combine expert local knowledge with the outputs of sophisticated modelling.

‘Local Leadership Growth’ was the particular scenario that the participants ranked with the highest overall score following a full day’s deliberations. This scenario assumes that there is strong local political leadership for energy schemes along with active support from major local organisations like the two universities, the two hospitals and large private sector employers.

This scenario then translates to a significant number of targeted energy-related measures being installed across the city, including expansions of cycling infrastructure and the district heating scheme along with much more external solid wall insulation. A new Low Carbon Zone is envisaged along with many more electric vehicles and an increase in community based Combined Heat and Power (CHP) schemes fuelled by biomass. Not included in this scenario however are certain potential major projects including extensions to the tram network to Kimberley and Gedling and a large anaerobic digestion plant.

These two workshops were part of the InSmart project, an EU-funded partnership project between four European cities that seeks to utilize academic and consultant expertise in the four countries (UK, Greece, Italy and Portugal) to maximize the benefit for local municipal energy plans. Nottingham City Council’s own energy strategy will be renewed with the information provided by this project.

Gavin Long, Research Fellow at the University of Nottingham’s Faculty of Engineering, presents the results of the day’s deliberations