Making Sussex a Net Zero region: local council and stakeholder workshop

Prof Mari Martiskainen presents the Energy Demand Research Centre to workshop attendees. Photo by Stuart Robinson, University of Sussex
News 19 June, 2024

Author: Siobhan Stack-Maddox


Recently, over 40 Officers and Members from Local Councils in the Greater Brighton area and other relevant stakeholders came together with University of Sussex energy policy and analysis experts. During a half-day workshop, they discussed challenges and opportunities relating to a regional strategic approach to energy supply and demand investment for Net Zero.

The event on the University of Sussex campus was co-organised with the Greater Brighton Economic Board and featured presentations offering a range of perspectives on the regional Net Zero transition:

  • John Taylor from the Department of Energy Security and Net Zero-funded Greater South East Net Zero Huband Barry Hatton from UK Power Networks outlined their organisation’s respective roles in delivering net zero regionally
  • Carbon Neutral 2030 Programme Manager, Kirsten Firth, presented the council’s decarbonisation plans which will be announced later this summer
  • University of Sussex’s Prof Tim Foxon, covered the UK’s Net Zero context, and its challenges and opportunities, including the increased role for strategic planning going forward
  • Dr Marie Claire Brisbois discussed the importance of inclusion to ensure effective uptake of smart energy solutions
  • Dr Donal Brown explained how ‘Local Green New Deal’ policies can deliver climate, economic and social goals and are strongly supported by the public

The presentations were followed by breakout group discussions on the following key themes:

  1. Strategic issues at a regional level
  2. Energy supply and network connections
  3. Energy demand reduction options

Some key topics of discussion included:

  • The need for greater regional level coordination on Net Zero strategy and delivery, including a clearer understanding of energy governance structures
  • The key challenges for Net Zero delivery, including finance, capacity, grid connections and barriers to implementing energy demand reduction solutions
  • The need for effective public engagement to bring communities along with a regional Net Zero vision
  • The range of local Net Zero initiatives and projects already underway across Sussex
  • The role the University of Sussex can play in regional Net Zero strategy and delivery

The insights from the workshop presentations and discussions will be used to inform regional planning and activities, as well as the University of Sussex’s ongoing and future research in this area.

Prof Tim Foxon commented, “Developing and implementing a strategic regional approach to expanding local renewable energy supply and pursuing options for equitably reducing energy demand is crucial for accelerating the transition to Net Zero carbon emissions. We are pleased that this workshop helped to forge useful links between public, private and community energy actors who will need to work together to deliver this. With our University of Sussex colleagues, we will continue to undertake and apply world-leading academic research and engagement to support this process.”


This workshop was funded by the University of Sussex’s Knowledge Exchange and Impact Fellowships and the Energy Demand Research Centre, and drew on research from the following Sussex Energy Group research projects:

Please click here to view the presentation slides and get in touch with Siobhán Stack-Maddox if you would like any further information.