Sheffield Hallam University was commissioned to conduct a process evaluation of the low carbon pioneer cities Heat Networks project - an initiative intended to support five of England’s core cities to move towards the deployment of low carbon heat networks. The following authorities took part in the pilot: Leeds City Region, Greater Manchester (city region), Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield.
The project comprised grant funding to cover the costs of feasibility work to investigate the potential for heat networks in each area. In addition to the grant funding, officers within DECC also provided ‘in kind’ support in the form of expert advice and guidance to the cities. The project sought to directly address barriers around skills and funding; however, observed other issues emerging once local authorities had the resources and skills to progress projects.
The evaluation was underpinned by four aims, as follows:
- Investigate the extent to which the project helped local authorities to overcome barriers to developing low carbon heat networks.
- How far have the five cities progressed?
- Which elements of the project itself worked well and which worked less well?
- At the city level, which practices have worked well or less well?
- Understand the local context that has driven (and affects) the development of heat networks.
- Identify and clarify specific decision making processes at a local level.