The trend towards decarbonisation and decentralisation of energy systems has created growing awareness of the potential interactions with other land uses and the need to give greater consideration to the spatial dimension of energy supply and demand.

To date, studies in the UK have only considered implications at the regional scale and there are many types of interactions between changes in energy systems, other types of infrastructure provision, stocks of natural capital and the supply of ecosystem services that can only be addressed at finer resolutions. BEIS have recently invested in five regional energy hubs across England and there are also local authority and Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) projects charged with investigating such integration issues and determining investment priorities at local levels. However, these initiatives currently lack the tools needed to help integrate social, economic and environmental objectives in the management and planning of spatially distributed energy systems. While there are tools for the technical assessment of options at a city scale (e.g. the Energy Systems Catapult Energy Path Networks), there is a need for additional support to integrate social, economic and environmental objectives.

This research will build on the spatial modelling work of ADVENT. We will work with the BEIS Hubs, LEP and local authority projects, and the new NERC programme on Evidence Based Decisions for UK Landscapes, to develop and evaluate spatial modelling tools that can sit with Geographical Information Systems (GIS) software. The tools will be co-developed to enable the assessment of trade-offs between objectives and identify investment priorities. This will allow customised modelling to address issues such as the impacts on energy systems of new housing developments, constraints on land use and trade-offs between objectives.