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Energy Capital: Smart Local Energy Systems – West Midlands Stakeholder Analysis and Feedback

Lead Organisation

Sustainability West Midlands
Project Team: Anna Bright, Dr Beck Collins and Nathaniel Weaver


As part of their work to deliver Smart Local Energy Systems (SLES), Energy Capital needed to determine how to get understanding and buy-in from council officers and elected members in councils across the West Midlands.


  • To explore the existing understanding of SLES held by councillors and officers.
  • To provide recommendations for a communications strategy to support the role of councils in progressing SLES.


  • SWM produced a report which revealed a contested and nuanced picture. There was a spectrum of understanding of SLES; some did not fully appreciate the ‘smart’ or ‘systems’ aspects of SLES, while others displayed a knowledge and enthusiasm for decentralised and decarbonised energy.
  • Interviewees highlighted challenges around lateral working across councils, external stakeholder engagement, the feasibility of SLES projects, resource challenges when engaging with SLES and energy, risk aversion around new technologies, and the need to ensure the energy transition does not lead to lower quality jobs. A strong motivator for most interviewees to engage with the issue of energy was the immediate impact energy costs were having on local householders and businesses.
  • Following from this, a key recommendation is that the communications strategy strongly highlights the immediate local benefits to ordinary people, in non-technical language, that come from the building of SLES.
  • The report also made several recommendations as to how Energy Capital could assist council officers and elected members to engage with and drive forward SLES, and what communications would be needed for this.

This project will form the foundation of a communications strategy which will enable us to get the buy in we need to successfully deliver Smart Local Energy Systems in the West Midlands. The insights it provides will be instrumental in understanding key messages and channels needed to communicate effectively.”

Kate Ashworth, Energy Infrastructure Lead, Energy Capital


For further information on the project or to work with us in one of a variety of ways, please see our consultancy page or contact the SWM team on enquiries@swm.org.uk.

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