GMLEM citizens’ jury: a people-powered energy transition

by Blog

The Greater Manchester Local Energy Market (GMLEM) project has ambitious plans to revolutionise energy networks – and help the city-region achieve its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2038.

Ultimately, the LEM will allow the city-region to manage its own power supply. It aims to:

  • Increase local renewable electricity generation
  • Decarbonise how we heat our buildings
  • Increase the diversity and flexibility of our electricity supply
  • Allow for the increase in growth of electric vehicles and new low carbon technology, by creating an infrastructure that supports this.

To reach Greater Manchester’s carbon neutrality target by 2038, we need to drastically cut emissions from generating electricity. This will require a transition to cleaner forms of energy.

When fossil fuels like coal and gas are burned to meet our demand for energy, they release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, causing climate change. There has already been a major shift towards renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind, and in 2020 renewable electricity overtook that generated from gas and coal plants for the first time. 

The majority of this low carbon energy is produced by giant wind and solar farms, but it’s possible to generate your own renewable energy at home. That’s the inspiration behind GMLEM

Carbon Co-op’s role on the project is to empower Greater Manchester citizens to be involved with developing plans and decision making, ensuring that the local energy market is designed with a much broader understanding of people’s needs and challenges. 

To achieve this, we formed a citizens’ jury commissioned by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA). The jury will explore what key everyday factors should be considered when deciding who owns and operates the local energy market and what role GMCA plays going forward.

During six sessions between 26 April and 5 May, the jury will be presented with and asked to deliberate on a number of scenarios that explore different structures and relationships. Jurors will then anonymously vote for the scenario they’d like to see put into practice.

In time, we hope that everyone within GM will use the LEM. We are trying to build a system, informed by local citizens, that allows everyone living and working in Greater Manchester to use energy differently.

User experience is at the heart of the project design. The LEM platform will be used by commercial properties, owner occupiers, social housing tenants and the public sector, so it needs to be intuitive, easy to use and understandable.

By tapping into the wants and needs of the people of Greater Manchester, we can identify what energy solutions best meet local needs. From here, energy planners can design secure, flexible systems that put consumers at their heart. This jury offers the people of Greater Manchester a golden opportunity to have their say on the local energy market.

Sean Owen is Head of Low Carbon at the Greater Manchester Combined Authority.