Photo: Carbon Trust
The Carbon Trust was established in 2001. Their stated mission is to accelerate the transition to a sustainable, low carbon economy.
The report Stakeholder Engagement in Heat Networks: A guide for project managers was published by The Carbon Trust in 2018. It aims to provide a better understanding of the importance of stakeholder engagement in heat network development, as well as advice on how to carry out the engagement in practice.
The stakeholder engagement guide from Carbon Trust is primarily intended for use by local authority project managers and project sponsors involed with heat network development. It draws on knowledge from stakeholder engagement experts within their heat network and can be used either in full or as a “series of connected mini-guides”.
The guide is divided into ten chapters. The first four chapters describe Stakeholder Engagement Methodology, Governance & Vision, Stakeholder Journeys and Data Collection. Chapters five through ten describe stakeholder engagement based in the stages of heat network development (From Heat mapping and energy masterplanning, through to Techno-Economic Feasibility and Detailed Project Development and Commercialisation, and finally Construction and Operation).
Below is an excerpt from the guide’s introduction (page 6):
“Heat networks have the potential to save carbon, save money, generate revenue, reduce fuel poverty and support economic development. The heat networks market in the UK has changed beyond recognition in recent years. There are new market entrants, new products and services, new support mechanisms and, of course, many, many new projects. This development of the market has been the catalyst for a number of significant improvements, but challenges remain. Robust stakeholder engagement is one of the biggest issues left to tackle if we are to see more and better networks being built in the UK.
Stakeholder engagement is a thread that must run throughout the development of every heat network project, as well as its operation. When done well it can make the difference between requests for resources being refused or accepted, customers signing up or walking away, and investors backing the project or looking elsewhere. Poor stakeholder engagement is likely to lead to unnecessary project risk, increased cost, the narrowing of options and can, ultimately, lead to project failure.
In spite of its critical importance, the process of stakeholder engagement is often not approached with the same rigour applied to the technical, financial or legal aspects of heat network development. There are specific skills that underpin stakeholder engagement, such as active listening, empathy, authenticity, analytical skills and interpretation. You need to ensure that your project team have those skills, and if not that they can find them elsewhere in the organisation or procure them externally.
Stakeholder engagement is something that will inevitably be part of your project, whether or not it is labelled as such or treated as a distinct stream of activity. Approaching stakeholder engagement through a systematic framework, such as that set out in this guide, enables you to ensure that the right type of engagement happens at the right time, increasing your chance of developing a successful project.
Stakeholder engagement is more than what is traditionally thought of as Communications. It is a two-way process through which you listen to and take on-board your stakeholders’ views and integrate them in your project. This integration is absolutely fundamental to good engagement. It is not about selling a project or a service; stakeholder engagement means collaborating with your stakeholders and understanding their perspectives, enabling you to develop a tailored project that meets your stakeholder needs and has greater chance of success.
Stakeholder engagement is an ongoing activity throughout the project lifecycle. If you have already started developing a heat network project then it is likely you will already have started some form of stakeholder engagement. Whatever stage you have reached, the advice in this guide is still relevant. Improving or revising stakeholder engagement at any point in the project lifecycle can reduce risk and improve your outcomes.”
Reproduced from “Stakeholder engagement in heat networks: A guide for project managers” with kind permission from the Carbon Trust.
The full report can be found on Carbon Trust’s website – here.