- Using less energy
- Transitioning to renewables
- Increasing flexibility and storage
- Developing carbon capture and storage
In 2019, 72% of Devon’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions related to energy use. This energy is used as electricity (12%) and the direct burning of fossil fuel in buildings (24%), transport (30%), and for manufacturing and construction (6%).1
This section describes what needs to happen to achieve net-zero energy supply based on the Climate Change Committee’s (CCC) Further Ambition Scenario. It then introduces goals for overcoming barriers to achieving net-zero in Devon. Actions are then proposed to achieve the goals.
8.2 The Change Needed
Four main changes are needed to decarbonise the energy we all use:
- Use less energy.
- Transition to renewables.
- Increase flexibility and storage.
- Develop carbon capture and storage.
8.2.1 Use Less Energy
A high take-up of energy-efficiency measures is needed in our buildings, which must be combined with enhancing awareness of energy issues so that our behaviour avoids wasting energy. These measures are discussed in detail in the Built Environment section of this Plan.
Using less energy for transport starts with reducing the need to travel – by using online communication or by enabling communities to regain local services, for example. For essential journeys we should consider using active travel (walking and cycling), buses and trains, or shared mobility schemes including car share. Due to Devon’s low population density, private vehicle use will continue, especially for journeys within rural areas and between rural areas and towns. These measures are discussed in detail in the Transport section of this Plan.
8.2.2 Transition to Renewables
In 2018, 7% of the total energy we used in Devon came from renewable sources within Devon.2 This needs to rise to near 100% by 2050.
The CCC3 advocates the electrification of transport and heating (principally heat pumps). Hydrogen, which needs to be produced by electrolysis using renewable electricity, is expected to heat some homes, power certain vehicles, machinery and industrial processes. The transition to electrification is estimated to increase Devon’s electricity consumption by around 2.5 times 2018 levels.4 This will be met in part through new energy projects in Devon, but also by nationally-significant infrastructure, such as offshore wind farms. The Devon Climate Emergency partners can facilitate enhanced port infrastructure, cable landings and electricity distribution equipment for these.
8.2.3 Increase Flexibility and Electricity Storage
Making best use of renewable resources requires (a) matching the natural variability of renewable energy output with times of demand by smarter and more flexible generation and consumption, combined with (b) the ability to store more energy. This will reduce the amount of new renewable energy capacity required, which will make best use of resource and reduce investment costs.5
8.2.4 Develop Carbon Capture and Storage
The CCC believes that using carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology will be necessary for industry to reach net-zero carbon.3 CCS captures carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels before it enters the atmosphere and permanently stores it deep underground.
8.3 Greenhouse Gas Outcomes
Figure 8.1 shows Devon’s GHG emissions arising from fossil fuels used by buildings, manufacturing and construction, transport and electricity consumption in the context of Devon’s total GHG emissions. The Figure also shows the projected reduction trajectory for these to 2050 as a result of the delivery of the CCC’s Further Ambition Scenario aided by the actions in this Plan. Emissions from these sectors in 2019 were 5.2Mt CO2e. Through the activities identified in this Plan, by 2050, the emissions are expected to fall to 0.6Mt CO2e. These will become net-zero through activities that remove CO2 from the atmosphere. The emissions from the energy used for agriculture, forestry and fishing are reported in the Food, Land and Sea section of this Plan to align with how the CCC report emissions data.
8.4 Other Opportunities and Benefits
- Innovation opportunities to make a more prosperous economy are available from offshore technologies (such as floating offshore wind) green hydrogen infrastructure and carbon capture and storage.
- The transition away from fossil fuels will support up to 192,000 jobs across Devon, Cornwall, Dorset and Somerset and provides an opportunity for skills development.6
- The retention of spending on energy within Devon will avoid up to £3.4 billion each year leaving the local economy.6
- Reduced air pollution, levels of fuel poverty and greater use of active travel will bring public health benefits.7
8.5 Devon’s Goals to Meet Net-Zero
Devon has five goals relating to Energy for how we achieve net-zero.
8.5.1 Goal EA – A Shared Ambition For a Net-Zero-Carbon Energy System Is Agreed
Devon has a target for 80% of its electricity demand to be sourced from renewables by 2030 (in 2018 it was 32%). Onshore wind farms and large-scale solar farms are currently the most affordable ways to meet future demand.8 89% of Devon Climate Assembly members were supportive of more renewable energy generation in Devon, including onshore wind. As Section 8.2 shows, a Devon Energy Plan is needed to model Devon’s future energy system and to develop a sequenced plan of actions to transition away from fossil fuels.
E1. Develop an Energy Plan for Devon to deploy renewable energy generation to meet future energy needs. This plan will:
E1.1. Update assessments of the accessible renewable energy resources available in Devon.
E1.2. Identify opportunities for renewable energy and storage deployment on land owned or managed by Devon Climate Emergency partners.
E1.3. Identify locations for renewable energy and energy storage informed by the emerging Land Use Framework and environmental and social sensitivities.
E1.4. Explore opportunities to create economic benefit from offshore technologies along Devon’s two coastlines.
E1.5. Consider the role of nationally significant energy infrastructure (including that developed outside Devon), flexibility markets, and storage technologies, and how these could change the total energy required to be generated in Devon.
E1.6. Consider the potential role and feasibility of a green-hydrogen industrial cluster.
E1.7. Appraise the potential for low carbon heat networks in new development to make best use of existing heat producers e.g. the Energy from Waste facility in Exeter, and as a retrofit opportunity in off-gas areas.
E2. Look to allocate locations for renewable and low-carbon energy initiatives in Local Plans and Neighbourhood Plans, ensuring community involvement.
8.5.2 Goal EB – Communities are Driving the Energy Transition
The Devon Climate Assembly emphasised the need for community benefit from energy projects. Communities must be closely involved in developing the Devon Energy Plan, prioritising community ownership opportunities that will keep profits in the local economy.
The National Planning Policy Framework has made it challenging to build new wind turbines – even those that would be community owned. 87% of the Devon Climate Assembly supported Devon working with government to make this more straightforward. In the meantime, communities must continue to be supported with training and resources to develop more locally-owned energy schemes, and the local planning system should encourage these.
Individuals, organisations and businesses can help stimulate demand for renewable energy by investing in community energy projects and switching to green electricity and gas tariffs.
E3. Provide support for communities wishing to develop their own energy infrastructure.
E4. Local Plan updates will look to include policies that give positive weight to renewable and low-carbon energy initiatives which have clear evidence of local community involvement and leadership.
E5. Provide advice on choosing genuine renewable-energy tariffs.
E6. Work with government to amend national planning legislation to make it more straightforward for onshore wind developments to get planning consent, especially those that are community owned.
Yealm Community Energy
Based in South Devon, Yealm Community Energy (YCE) is a not-for-profit social enterprise, run by local people. It is working to offer the opportunity to invest in locally generated, clean electricity, with profits going to a Community Fund. YCE is looking to acquire up to two solar farms in its locality by securing loans and offering community shares to raise the necessary funds.
Newton Downs is YCE’s first community solar farm and generates enough renewable electricity to power the equivalent of 2,000 homes. The project was developed by Good Energy and YCE is now part-owner with Community Owned Renewable Energy (CORE). With local support YCE hope to own it completely by the end of 2022.
The second solar farm at Creacombe generates enough power for the equivalent of 2,500 homes. It is managed to encourage wildlife, with the creation of species-rich wildflower meadows and the positioning of beehives around the panels.
Financial surpluses from the solar farms will be paid annually to the Community Fund to benefit five local parishes and is being used to fund local environmental projects. The value of the community fund may reach £45,000 per year with an overall benefit to the community over the two projects’ lifetimes of up to £3 million. In 2020 the Fund provided £10,000 for coronavirus relief.
8.5.3 Goal EC – Constraints on the Electricity Grid are Overcome
There can be more renewable electricity being supplied to the grid from solar PV farms in the middle of the day during the summer than there is local demand for the electricity. This can cause the grid to become constrained and require upgrades when new generating projects connect, adding to project costs.
Using the grid smartly and flexibly can alleviate some constraints. Such initiatives are still in their infancy and need testing.
Western Power Distribution is working with the regulator, Ofgem, to overcome these challenges and Devon Climate Emergency partners will play their part in working with government to address this regulatory barrier.
E7. Test approaches to making the energy system smarter and more flexible.
E8. Work with government to enable timely and cost-effective grid upgrades.
8.5.4 Goal ED – Low Carbon Energy Becomes Affordable and is Attractive for Investors
The CCC highlights that progress on low-carbon heating has been slow nationally.3 To address this, in 2022, the government launched the Boiler Upgrade Scheme which offers financial incentives to switch a natural gas or oil boiler to low-carbon alternatives.
Despite district heating being used successfully in new developments at Monkerton and Cranbrook, the technology’s viability needs to be improved to be used widely. Government’s new Heat Network Transformation Programme offers support to develop heat networks.
Continued dialogue with government will be necessary to feedback local experience of accessing these grants to ensure they are effective.
Smaller-Scale Renewable Electricity
There is currently no subsidy for small-scale renewable electricity schemes (under 5 Mega-Watts (MW) capacity). This has meant that there has been little addition to renewable energy capacity in Devon since 2015 when the previous Feed in Tariff subsidies began to be reduced (Figure 8.2).
National support mechanisms for small-scale renewable electricity projects need to be reintroduced to return to the growth rates seen before 2015.
E9. Work with government to ensure effective incentives are available for the use of renewable heat and waste heat from industrial and commercial facilities, including waste Energy Recovery Facilities.
E10. Work with government to reintroduce support mechanisms for smaller-scale renewable electricity generation.
8.5.5 Goal EE – Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is Piloted on Industrial Facilities
The first large-scale CCS plant was opened in 1996 in Norway but the technology is yet to be proven in the UK.9 National government has committed to deploy CCS in at least two sites by 2030.10
Devon does not have the industries the government is targeting for the first phases of CCS. Longer-term, the Devon Climate Emergency partners should ensure that the government is aware of Devon’s ambition to see CCS technology fitted to appropriate installations, such as energy from waste facilities.
E11. Remain engaged with government funding opportunities to pilot carbon capture and storage technology on industrial facilities in Devon.
8.6 Summary of the Actions
Figure 8.3 below, shows the reference number and text of each Energy Supply action in this Plan. The anticipated start and duration of each action is shown on the right-hand side of the diagram.
The actions and their duration highlighted in red have been identified as priorities through two processes. First, the Net Zero Task Force assessed each action’s potential to contribute to emissions reductions and the likelihood they can be implemented in a timely fashion. Second, some actions were highlighted as priorities by respondents to the public consultation.
For more detail, including groups and organisations who can help to deliver these actions, see the full action table.
Delivering the actions in this section of the Plan will help to achieve the milestones in Figure 8.4, which reflect the Climate Change Committee’s Further Ambition Scenario.
1 Mitchell A. et al. (2020) Greenhouse Gas Emissions Report – Devon, Plymouth, Torbay 2019. Centre for Energy and Environment, University of Exeter. Available at: https://devonclimateemergency.org.uk/studies-and-data/devons-carbon-footprint/
2 Data calculated by the Net Zero Task Force based on Regen (2019) Renewable Energy Progress Report for Devon 2017 to 2018. Available at: https://www.devon.gov.uk/energyandclimatechange/renewable-energy and BEIS (2019) Total final energy consumption at regional and local authority level 2005 to 2017. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/total-final-energy-consumption-at-regional-and-local-authority-level
3 Climate Change Committee (2019), Net-Zero – The UK’s Contribution to Stopping Global Warming. Available at https://www.theccc.org.uk/publication/net-zero-the-uks-contribution-to-stopping-global-warming/
4 Preliminary calculations by the Net-Zero Task Force
5 Western Power (2018), The Future of Our Electricity Network – Consultation to Engage Communities in Future DSO Strategy. Available at: https://www.westernpower.co.uk/downloads/5369
6 Carbon Trust (2019), Cornwall and Isles of Scilly, Dorset and Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership’s Joint LEP Energy Strategy Framework. Available at https://dorsetlep.s3.amazonaws.com/Strategic%20Sites/HotSW,%20Dorset,%20CIoS%20Joint%20LEP%20Energy%20Strategy%20Framework.pdf
7 Morgan,J. (2020) Electric vehicles: the future we made and the problem of unmaking it, Cambridge Journal of Economics, 44 (4), pp953–977. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1093/cje/beaa022
8 BEIS (2020), Electricity Generation Costs 2020. Available at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/911817/electricity-generation-cost-report-2020.pdf
9 Grantham Research Institute (2018), What is Carbon Capture and Storage and What Role Can it Play in Tackling Climate Change? Available at: https://www.lse.ac.uk/granthaminstitute/explainers/what-is-carbon-capture-and-storage-and-what-role-can-it-play-in-tackling-climate-change/
10 BEIS (2020), Carbon Capture, Usage and Storage. A Government Response on Potential Business Models for Carbon Capture, Usage and Storage. Available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/909706/CCUS-government-response-business-models.pdf