Zero Carbon Rugeley

Zero Carbon Rugeley (ZCR) has delivered a detailed energy system design for the Rugeley area which is sustainable and low-carbon and responds to the town’s rich energy heritage.

Lead Organisation




Rugeley, Staffordshire

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About the project

The project helps to drive the regeneration of the town and local energy infrastructure while offering additional services and value to residents and businesses.

It has put the involvement of the local community at its heart, working actively and creatively with local groups to identify what those living and working in Rugeley want from a future energy system.

The project responds to the town’s rich energy heritage and encompasses redevelopment of a coal power station site which closed in 2016. ZCR complements other PfER projects by exploring the challenges and opportunities for smart local energy systems in a market-town environment.

What did the project achieve?

  • An overarching smart local energy system-ready development framework for the Rugeley area, based on planned interventions across electricity, heat, and mobility in the existing community and across new developments in the area. This includes how the former power station site may help catalyse investment in low carbon and electricity infrastructure.
  • Community engagement through the user-centric design process: engagement with local residents, businesses, and stakeholders significantly shaped the final ZCR model.
  • Technology building-blocks, including energy efficiency retrofit pathways, active transport, mobility as a service, automated vehicles, and energy-system management and optimisation such as in-home control and smart local energy system-wide optimisation.
  • Cannock, Lichfield and Stafford Borough local authorities have been inspired to support the development of a Local Area Energy Plan (LAEP) in response to ZCR.

Key lessons learnt

  1. Creative engagement with communities and stakeholders needs to be at the heart of smart local energy systems. It should engage with the heritage, history and sense of place in which the smart local energy system is embedded.
  2. A successful smart local energy system model involves balancing multiple costs and benefits, it is important to take an iterative approach to balancing these tensions and opportunities.
  3. Attracting private investment to smart local energy systems means finding ways to manage complexity and help investors understand the risks and opportunities inherent in integrated energy projects.

In the video below, Louise Alter of Equans describes the Zero Carbon Rugeley project, including its ambitions, achievements and what happens next. Louise spoke at Innovate UK’s Energy-smart places conference in February 2023, which celebrated the wide range of smart local energy system projects funded under the Prospering from the Energy Revolution programme.

Next steps

  • ZCR’s user-centric design is a central feature of several developing projects with funding decisions expected soon.
  • Establishment of a structure to deliver photovoltaic and solar on an ability to pay basis with a community fund at its heart.

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