An Introduction to the Go Neutral Smart Energy Programme

Greater Manchester ‘Go Neutral Smart Energy’ is a GMCA-led ‘smart’ energy programme aiming to deliver impact against our city region’s carbon neutral 2038 target, build our local green economy and make our energy supply more affordable.  

Go Neutral is a 3-year programme of activity which aims to accelerate the delivery of up to 85MW of solar power generation with battery storage and electric vehicle charging infrastructure across Greater Manchester by trusted, stringently procured suppliers.

The programme is a key part of Greater Manchester’s public sector work to decarbonise its estate and achieve its ambitious carbon-neutral target by 2038, before the Paris Agreement.  Key to achieving this target is increasing investment in local, smart energy infrastructure.

Working with our partners: the ten GM Local Authorities, Environment Agency and TFGM, we are building de-risked portfolios of land, buildings and car park assets for smart energy infrastructure opportunities that will be delivered via a range of investment and delivery models.

GMCA has just completed the set-up of a call-off framework that is intended to streamline the procurement and delivery process of these smart energy opportunities. The framework has a potential value of £300m and will be accessible to all public sector organisations nationally wanting to deliver smart energy infrastructure in their locality.

Go Neutral Opportunities for Contracting Authorities and Suppliers

The tender for the call-off framework was published in October 2021 and awarded in January 2022.

Expressions of interest were received from over one hundred and sixty suppliers and bids were received from twenty-six suppliers comprising SMEs and large companies, headquartered in GM, NW England and nationally.

Of these, twelve suppliers were awarded a place on the ‘call-off framework’ across four lots:

  • Building integrated solar PV (and battery storage, if required)
  • Solar car ports (and battery storage/ EV charge points, if required)
  • Ground mounted solar PV (and battery storage, if required)
  • Integrated smart energy solutions (solar PV plus battery storage, electric vehicle charging infrastructure, wind turbines, hydro, etc)

The first three lots are for public sector funded opportunities. The fourth lot is for third party funded opportunities, but there is flexibility for shared investment and revenue sharing under the contract structure.

How will it work?

Any public sector organisation seeking to use the framework will need to run a further competition exercise using templates provided by GMCA.  The contracting authority will need to decide which lot or lots they want to run a mini competition in. Contracting authorities will need to invite all suppliers in the lot to tender, but suppliers have the choice of whether to bid. Once a supplier is selected, it will then enter into a contract with the individual contracting authority, this might not be necessarily in Greater Manchester but in other regions too.

GMCA will add a 1% service charge to all projects procured via the call-off framework.  Revenues accrued from this service charge will be used to cover the running of the framework and future retendering of the framework.  Any additional revenues accrued from this fee will go into a project development funding pot that will be available to GM Districts to support project feasibility and development activity.

Building portfolios of opportunities

At the start of the Go Neutral programme, a total of 9,436 land assets, 864 car parks and 2,495 buildings were submitted by public sector partners for a site geospatial assessment and prioritisation exercise. This helped to identify and remove those sites that presented a showstopper and gain a better understanding of which sites presented the best opportunities (eg. power offtake opportunities from nearby buildings, high traffic point counts and nearby amenities suitable for EVCI).

For the initial phase, about 10% of these assets were reviewed by our partners for further consideration of any local issues and then a selection of sites was shortlisted for the next stage.

Of the sites that have been reviewed and confirmed onto a preferred shortlist, we are on track to achieve our target number of opportunities for the initial stage of the ‘call-off framework’. Further work to refine the shortlist is now underway with the aim to provide a balanced portfolio of land, building and car park assets for solar PV, battery storage and EVCI.

Planning for the future

Our 2019 Climate Emergency declarations and the Greater Manchester Fiver Year Environment Plan require us to decarbonise our estate, URGENTLY.  Together with other GMCA-led low carbon initiatives, Go Neutral will put GM on the pathway to:

  • Take control of how we generate, use and trade our energy locally to create a resilient and connected energy system
  • Create investment opportunities that will support new jobs and skills on our pathway to carbon neutral by 2038
  • Create greener, healthier, and more affordable practices

Go Neutral will provide insight to support future development and innovation to assist mapping of energy demands and assess infrastructure opportunities which will define and shape future programmes, including Local Area Energy Plans.

Key milestones of project

Since July last year we have:

  • Completed the public sector asset prioritisation and shortlisting exercise with partners
  • Facilitated a market engagement session to inform the procurement of the call-off framework
  • Developed and published the call-off framework Invitation to Tender
  • Worked with Growth Company to host a bidder networking event
  • Evaluated the tender responses and awarded the framework

The framework is up and running effective from the 31st of January 2022 and we are currently working with our public sector partners to arrange their portfolios of opportunities and then prepare for mini competition.

Soon we’ll be advertising the Go Neutral Framework more widely and holding discussions with other interested parties not based in the region that would like to access the framework.

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