Platform. The everyday portal for sharing knowledge and intelligence on sustainability across Greater Manchester.

Fuelling our future

The UK’s energy system is changing more rapidly than at any time in the last half century and the changes could affect Greater Manchester’s vision for long term sustainable growth. We have a key role to play in developing a decentralised low carbon and renewable energy generation.

In the latest of New Economy's Working Papers, “Powering Greater Manchester: how will we fuel our future?”, I consider four future energy scenarios and conclude that if the conurbation continues ‘business as usual’, it will struggle to fully achieve its carbon reduction target of 48% by 2020. 

The report specifically highlights that although the conurbation’s 1TWh* renewable electricity target for 2020 (as set out in the Greater Manchester Climate Change Strategy and Implementation Plan) is likely to be met; the renewable heat target of 3TWh is very challenging. 

In addition, both the renewable energy and renewable heat targets represent a very small percentage of the conurbation’s overall energy use and a small percentage of its estimated potential, suggesting that the targets should be considered as a floor not a ceiling for the amount of renewable generation required across Greater Manchester. 

Greater Manchester is nationally leading on the low carbon agenda – having established a dedicated Low Carbon Hub – and the  evidence suggests that there is an opportunity for us to be even more proactive in our role in shaping and delivering the energy system, to positively impact on the conurbation’s growth, well-being and prosperity. 

In the Working Paper, I set out three key actions for Greater Manchester:

• increase the rate of deployment of low carbon and decentralised energy, particularly heat, across the conurbation

• find ways of making sure that businesses and all parts of the community are involved and can therefore benefit from renewable and low carbon energy developments

• ensure that the economic impact of local jobs and growth is maximised as a result of the investments made to develop decentralised renewable energy

Todd Holden, director of low carbon policy and programmes at ENWORKS, said:

“Securing affordable, low carbon energy is one of the greatest challenges we face. This report makes it clear that by taking local control of our energy, Greater Manchester can both meet this challenge and secure real economic and social benefit for all of its residents.”

Mike Emmerich, chief executive of New Economy, said:

“This independently authored paper provides further evidence on the challenges that Greater Manchester faces in securing a low carbon future. The paper makes it clear that for Greater Manchester to achieve its ambitions for growth, well-being and prosperity, low carbon energy has a critical role to play.”

To read New Economy Working Paper, 'Greater Manchester: how will we fuel our future?” in full, please click here. You can also download this document from our download library here



* TWh = Terrawatt hour (or 1000 Gigawatts) – the amount of energy available at any given moment is measured in Joules or Watt hours.  1 Watt hour is a tiny amount so kilo-, Mega-, Giga- and Terra- Watts are all used to measure increasing amounts of energy usage.  

• New Economy Working Papers are designed both to produce robust pieces of analysis that stimulate the long-term sustainable economic growth of Greater Manchester and to act as a vehicle for economic development professionals to further their personal development. Papers are intended to invigorate intellectual and challenging debate on the key economic issues and ideas of the time.

• Overall responsibility for developing New Economy Working Papers lies with an independent editorial board. 

• The views expressed within the New Economy Working Paper, 'Greater Manchester: how will we fuel our future', are those of its author (Helen Seagrave) alone. They do not necessarily reflect the views or the policy of their employers, members of the New Economy Working Papers Editorial Board or New Economy.

• The Greater Manchester Strategy can be found at:


Main image courtesy of Flickr user James, published here under a Creative Commons license.