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State of the Region 2020 Full Report

7. Affordable and Clean Energy

Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

In 2018, there was an estimated 193,915 households living in fuel poverty, this equates to 11.5% of all households, this is above the England average of 10.3%. However, when compared to 2017 this is a decrease from the 218,644 households living in fuel poverty in the WMCA which equated to 13.1%. 

In the WMCA geography, 736,150 MwHof renewable electricity generation was produced in 2018, with 45.8% (337,304 MwH) generated from Photovoltaics. Since 2017, the amount of renewable electricity generated has decreased in the WMCA area by 7.5% (-60,044 MwH) while the UK experienced an overall increase by 11.4%. When taking in to account consumption to the generation of renewable electricity, this equates to a 4.5% total renewable generation rate.  

Across the WM 7 Met. 42.1% of buses have low emissions engines and 70.4% of train journeys use electric engines. 

Ultra Low Emissions Vehicles Case Study

Energy Capital have been awarded £250k through the WMCA investment programme to develop a cohesive strategy for supporting infrastructure to allow the transition to Ultra-Low Emission Vehicles (ULEV) across the West Midlands Region.  The programme aims to draw together a comprehensive evidence base of current and future requirements, build a picture of the work streams that Constituent Members are already undertaking, identify any gaps or barriers and develop recommendations as to how WMCA could further support and accelerate the transition.

So far, and in partnership with Transport for West Midlands, CENEX have been commissioned to develop the foundational evidence base and technology roadmaps. This included all major classes of private and public transport and potential transition routes including electrification, hydrogen, biofuels and other sources. In particular reference to the electrification of private vehicles, it projected that over 10,000 on-street charging bays would be required by 2040 under their medium scenario. The full report was published in January 2020. 

Concurrently, a series of working groups were arranged with all Constituent Members to ascertain work done to date, aims and objectives of their own programmes and appetite for joint working. A board paper was presented to the WMCA in February 2020 which proposed to continue working collaboratively as well as explore the potential of a spine network of ultra-rapid chargers to enable EV users to confidently travel in, out and around the West-Midlands without range anxiety. 

Energy capital has been leading on this programme to ensure that the energy infrastructure which will underpin the transition are in place and will not form a barrier to deployment. We have been advising on the electric bus charging work stream with Transport for West Midlands on grid capacity and potential mitigation of barriers. We have been working closely with National Grid and WPD to capture opportunities for more effective processes in the transition and highlight individual opportunities for potential energy hubs. 

The programme aims to leverage private or government funds to ensure the West Midlands leads the transition, supporting our vitally important automotive sector and ensuring local business and residents have the opportunity for clean mobility options.

Repowering the Black Country Research Case Study

Research has been carried out to underpin the prospectus which sets out an ambitious and bold plan to deliver the world’s first zero carbon industrial cluster in the Black Country. It will enable clean GVA growth of £16bn by 2030, creating or safeguarding at least 20,000 skilled jobs. This project was part-funded by Innovate UK and delivered by a partnership led by the Black Country Consortium and Camirus. It was an effective collaboration between industrial and academic partners who provided match funding: CR Plus, Kew Technology Ltd, Pro Enviro, Skewband Camirus. The University of Birmingham and WMG contributed their academic expertise and the project was delivered under very challenging circumstances with much goodwill from all parties. The Black Country project team has strong links to local academic institutions with strong track records and expertise and able to support this agenda. In particular: 

  • The European Bioenergy Research Institute at Aston University 
  • The Birmingham Energy Institute at the University of Birmingham 
  • WMG at the University of Warwick 
  • The University of Wolverhampton 

The completed Roadmap Project (phase 1) has identified four key priorities to stimulate the large-scale private sector investment and commercial development required to deliver the vision (Figure 12. These are:

  1. A structured approach to identifying circular economy opportunities appropriate to the Black Country’s existing industrial base; and development and testing of a methodology for designing and facilitating the development of zero carbon circular manufacturing/energy hubs. 
  2. A catalytic and immediate programme of support to Black Country businesses, engaging them at scale in the vision and assisting them to optimise their processes to minimise carbon emissions and reduce energy costs. 
  3. Effective integration of the vision and hub development methodology into the spatial and economic plans of the Black Country, as well as wider existing economic, R&D and business support programmes and efforts to secure inward investment. 
  4. Establishing a portfolio of targeted financial mechanisms to support hub and cluster development.