Lancashire is lagging behind Greater Manchester in planning how to reduce carbon emissions, according to the organisation responsible for distributing electricity across the two conurbations.
Representatives from Electricity North West (ENW) even suggested councillors attend a Green Summit being hosted by Manchester metro mayor Andy Burnham to see what the county could be achieving.
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“They’re way ahead of you,” Mike Taylor, ENW’s customer engagement manager, told a meeting of Lancashire County Council’s external scrutiny committee.
“We did try to do some work last year with the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP) on looking at a carbon vision for the county, but it’s gone very quiet. We’re here, waiting to help - [but] it’s not something we can impose on you,” he said.
The LEP, the region’s growth and development body, did produce an energy strategy in 2018 - and several of its recommendations suggest timescales which stretch across this year and next. Priorities included developing existing strengths in low carbon technologies and promoting energy efficiency in homes and business.
But Manchester has stolen a march after announcing that it will become a net carbon neutral city by 2038 and that all of its new buildings will be carbon neutral within the next decade.
The committee heard that ENW’s own decarbonisation targets apply to the whole of the region it serves, but that Manchester is “moving at a faster pace”.
Lancashire’s energy strategy reveals that several areas of the county - including Preston, Blackpool and Blackburn - are generating less than 20 percent of their potential capacity across all types of renewables.
Even notable exceptions - like the near 60 percent of biomass capacity being used in Chorley or the close to maximum hydropower generated in Wyre - are usually balanced out by very low production of other renewables in the same area.
The report reveals that there is significant potential for growth in wind power in the county, in spite of one district - Rossendale - already having one of the biggest windfarms in England at Scout Moor. The development of heat networks - which use a centrally-located power source to heat homes in an area - is listed as another priority.
The meeting heard that incentives for commercial consumers to use energy at certain times of the day - and avoid times of peak demand - could also come to the domestic market.
Members were told that the market in energy generation now involves those who were previously just users of it.
“Some of the businesses that are taking their [energy use] seriously, make more money from supplying electricity back to the grid than they do from the products they make. Capacity trading will become the norm,” Mike Taylor said.
The UK is committed to reducing its carbon emissions by 57 percent by 2030, compared to the level they were at in 1990. There is no binding target for individual local authorities.
The Lancashire Enterprise Partnership was contacted for comment.
WHAT’S THE BIG IDEA?
This is the energy vision laid out by the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership last year:
Insulate - improving energy efficiency of hard to treat properties.
Heat - delivery of a city centre heat network within a Lancashire urban area.
Jobs - supporting the creation of jobs in the energy and low carbon sectors.
Low carbon - carbon emissions reduced in line with UK targets.
Active - double journeys by bike and increase the number of people walking by 10% by 2027.
Improve - energy productivity by 20% in commercial and industrial sectors.