Local energy planning is one of the many functions that is becoming more decentralised across Europe. This major transfer in responsibility is applying many new obligations on local government, leaving many local government representatives with a responsibility that they cannot completely fulfil.

The majority of sustainable energy projects are driven at a national level, and it has been recognised that if more of these projects are to succeed, significant local participation and input are necessary. At present, this happens far too seldom, and leads to a slower uptake of sustainable energy, often owing to a lack of understanding by local stakeholders of energy issues and options. Overcoming these barriers, and developing the knowledge, know-how and expertise at a local level to identify, promote and support local sustainable energy development with the on-going socioeconomic benefits of such projects (reduced costs, employment, health, transport, emissions, etc) is essential if such development is to accelerate to meet national and EU targets.
Based upon previous experience, the team has identified that the majority of projects do not happen owing to the failure to identify development opportunities. Typically, local government does not have the expertise, or means to undergo detailed energy analysis or planning, while developers do not have direct contact with local decision-makers.

Local government energy planners need support in performing their new roles, ideally with a tool that can assist them in their obligations. By integrating such a simple, easy to use, and inexpensive local energy planning model with local government planning, the opportunity exists to eliminate a primary barrier to the wide-scale development of sustainable energy projects in Europe. SAFIRE-LP is the tool that can bridge this gap, primarily because SAFIRE takes a bottom-up approach, which differs from the standard top-down approach of most models. Therefore, by building on SAFIRE's strengths, the burdens of decentralisation can be alleviated and cleared for energy planning.

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