• Ivana (Communic... profile
    Ivana (Communic...
    4 February 2019 - updated 2 months ago
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What is the specific problem?

In the EU’s vision for a long-term strategy for 2050 (“Clean Planet for all: A European Strategic long-term vision for a prosperous, modern, competitive and climate neutral economy”) published on 28th November 2018, Member States are asked to work together with all local and regional authorities towards becoming carbon neutral by 2050. Although this is not formally adopted by the Member States, the strategic vision shows how Europe can lead the way to climate neutrality by investing in realistic technological solutions, empowering citizens, and aligning action in key areas such as industrial policy, finance, or research. All this is to be done in parallel to ensuring social fairness for a just transition. This vision for a climate-neutral future covers nearly all EU policies and is in line with the 2015 Paris Agreement’s objectives. Therefore, the role of the sub-national level will be fundamental to help to decrease global emissions. Also, it is often necessary for multiple municipalities to work together on one single energy masterplan with the cooperation of a regional authority.

Energy systems have historically been relatively simple and centralised. They have been based on matching supply and demand, transmitting energy through a distribution system, and ensuring that users have a reliable supply. However, the energy transition demands a more complex, decentralised, dynamic system that requires a more interventionist approach from cities and municipalities in planning their system. Energy master-planning is a spatial, and sometimes also temporal, approach to determining the energy needs of a locality. It explores how those needs will be met through a variety of power and heat sources. This approach needs to consider future growth and changes in the locality, dynamic demand, new technologies, and new energy production. It also necessitates the involvement of a wide group of local actors for input.

As we are increasingly moving towards decentralised energy infrastructures and technologies, we also need to adapt the governance of the energy system. This will mean that the local and regional authorities, who actually stand at the forefront of this transition, are able to contribute to energy planning and scenarios which are still predominantly discussed at the national level.

Energy master-planning needs to be tailored to local conditions, as well as to future development and growth plans. To ensure that the local energy system is integrated into the larger energy system, energy master-planning will often require close cooperation with neighbouring and regional authorities, Member states, etc.

To move from the singularity of the project-based approach towards a successful energy transition, it is necessary to empower cities and municipalities to develop and implement their own energy master-planning (which for purposes of this Action includes both aspects of energy planning as such and energy aspects of other related municipal planning processes like spatial planning). This integrated and territorial approach should be linked to wider urban development, particularly in relation to the density and climate conditions of the specific region. The tools developed should therefore also be used for different sized cities and municipalities.

Currently, the European Commission, the Member States and the European Parliament are negotiating the next programming period for the European Structural and Investment funds. The members of the Partnership welcome the requirement of allocating at least 6 % of the ERDF resources on national-level sustainable urban development. This gives the chance to invest more funds in an integrated urban development, where the energy transition plays a crucial role in the local and regional level. Member States and regions in the EU should, therefore, make use of the ERDF funds for sustainable urban development, including energy efficiency, by defining adequate measures in the Operational Programmes in the period after 2020. 


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What action is needed?

Energy master-planning is a complex activity, and there is currently limited support available to enable cities and municipalities to develop a masterplan for their local energy system. There is also a strengthening movement across Europe towards decentralising energy infrastructure and technologies. As part of this movement, there is an inherent need to adapt the governance of the energy system as well. This Action will, therefore, develop a supporting document that will try to assist and enable cities and municipalities to accommodate energy master-planning processes.

---> The proposed action:

Develop structured, practical support materials for cities and municipalities through the collection of lessons learned and the provision of guidance and recommendations. This is designed to empower cities or municipalities of different sizes in the EU’s the Member States to undertake energy master-planning, as an integrated part of sustainable urban development. These support materials will include:

  • Recommendations on various issues, such as a criteria for selecting an appropriate spatial area, thematic objectives of an integrated approach, a strategy for implementation, suggestions for an approach for the establishment of a governance system between governmental and non-governmental organisations, data sources and the role of data, targets for the energy transition, action-oriented urban transition agenda on district scale, actor activation and options for financing;
  • An emphasis that a structural approach must also be explored, whereby the need for a stronger contribution and involvement of cities towards national-level energy planning is promoted;
  • Support for the implementation of the energy transition through EU funding resources;
  • Awareness raising and knowledge dissemination for local authorities and relevant stakeholders.


How to implement the action?

Short term: Through the Partnership Working Group, good practices related to energy master-planning will be collected from all involved partners, city networks and relevant European funded projects into a support document.

Medium and longer term: This Action can be implemented via the “Reference Framework for Sustainable Cities (RFSC)”. The RFSC is a very appropriate and user-friendly tool that helps cities and municipalities to improve the integrated approach of local development strategies. In this particular case, also to contribute to the mainstreaming of energy planning in all dimensions of urban development. 


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