European Federation of Agencies and Regions for Energy and the Environment

A European energy system in 3D? Rethinking the EU’s energy and climate policies through the lenses of democratization, decentralization and divestment, 26-04-2017

This event, organised by Energy Cities as an official side-event to its annual conference “2050 starts today” in Stuttgart, Germany, brought together policymakers, industry and cities from Energy Cities’ network to assess how a 3D vision – based on democratization, decentralization and divestment (the 3Ds) – can make European, national and especially local climate and energy policies more efficient and effective.

The event was held in English and moderated by David Donnerer, project officer at Energy Cities for the PUBLENEF project.

The event featured interventions from 4 speakers and an open discussion :

  • The first speaker, Jean-Jacques Marchais from Schneider Electric, underlined in his intervention the need to engage and empower energy consumers, in particular through digital technologies (e.g. smart meters), energy audits and qualified local staff (e.g. energy managers, energy advisory services), in order to incentivize citizens towards more energy efficient behaviour and ensure their buy-in for a locally driven energy transition.
  • The second speaker, Jeremy Draper from the city of Milton Keynes (UK), stressed that cities should not wait for their national governments to take progressive climate and energy action. Moreover, an ambitious long-term strategy (e.g. till 2050), which engages citizens and city departments and is based on policy proposals coming from the people, stands a chance for success to deliver more effective and efficient energy and climate policies on the ground.
  • The third speaker, Jan Rosenow from the think tank RAP, brought forth the innovative idea of “divestment through energy efficiency first”, which means that national and local authorities should strategically first reduce their energy consumption, before investing in new fossil fuel projects. For states and cities, it is cheaper to reduce energy first, than it is to build new energy infrastructure.
  • The fourth speaker, Martin Eibl from EASME, presented a number of EU-funded support mechanisms (e.g. Project Development Assistance, Smart Finance for Smart Buildings initiative), in order to help cities and states make energy efficiency projects more attractive to private investors.

The interventions of the four speakers was followed by an open discussion with the participants, which mostly came from Energy Cities’ network.

Objective & main programme point

The objective of this event was to have a discussion between policymakers, industry and cities on how to apply a 3D vision – based on democratization, decentralization and divestment (the 3Ds) – to European, national and especially local climate and energy policies. Applying a 3D vision to the policymaking of these public authorities can provide the way forward for local, national and European public authorities in implementing more effective and efficient sustainable energy policies. A 3D vision can also support PUBLENEF partners on the national level in the development of their WP3 roadmaps. Concrete applications of the 3Ds were put forward during the event on local, national and European level, and the following questions for reflection provided new food for thought on the issue:

1) Reflecting on the presentation from Schneider Electric, what role do you see for digitalization in a more democratic energy system?
2) What role can citizens and local energy communities play in the democratization of the energy system?

1) Reflecting on the presentation from Milton Keynes, in which policy areas in your city is decentralization feasible?
2) Considering the political situation in your country, what changes would be needed to enable more decentralized decision-making?

1) Reflecting on the presentation from RAP, what is your assessment on using energy efficiency first to divest from fossil fuels?
2) Have you applied the energy efficiency first principle to your own city policies? If yes, in which ways?

Useful information for the development and implementation of WP3 roadmaps, especially for the roadmaps of CRES in Korinth, CIEMAT in Valladolid, ABEA in Burgas, ENEA in Castelbuono and ARENE in Ile-de-France:

  • RAP & Schneider Electric: A systematic approach based on “Energy efficiency first” can significantly cut down costs for states and cities (especially relevant, since energy is often an important cost for the municipal budget) and therefore make policymaking more effective & efficient
  • City of Utrecht (NL): ownership is a key issue for citizens – if they feel that they are truly part of the cities’ energy and climate policies (e.g. have a share in the local utility or cooperative), they are much more likely to give their support. Consultation and dialogue with citizens has to be continuous. Not only should people be involved, but their ideas have to be included in the end in the concrete plan of the city – otherwise, they feel that they haven’t been taken seriously.
  • Kronoberg region (SWE): People want to be more and more “prosumers”, and be actively involved in the system. In order to support this tendency, cities and nations can implement good policies by e.g. providing favourable loans to citizens for installing PV panels on their roofs.
  • Milton Keynes (UK): It is important to get especially young people involved early on in discussions on climate and energy policy, since they can bring a lot of new, fresh ideas to the table. It is important to have a consensus-based policy approach and to keep politics out of it. It is also essential to keep on doing local policy even if there is a local election, to keep the momentum. In the first meeting with citizens in a consultative process, city officials should not talk, and just listen to what citizens have to say, acknowledge it and see what can be concretely done about it.
  • City of Litomerice (Czech Republic): A good mechanism to involve citizens are energy roundtables on different energy issues, such as e.g. energy efficiency, public lighting, renewable energy. City officials should go to such roundtables with an open mindset and show to citizens that they genuinely care about their input to local policies.
  • Eibl (EASME): Local investment projects need to have cross-party buy-in in order to be more safe, stable and have a long-term chance of success. A good example for this approach is the local authority fund of the Cambridge County Council (UK).
  • Froning (formerly Vattenfall, now Consultant at Communication Works): Installing digital energy technologies like smart meters in citizens’ homes can provide opportunities, but it is key that the citizens have to be fully in control of the digital technology – “take control when I want to”.

Overall, the participants were satisfied with the event, and were curious to know more about the future developments of the PUBLENEF project and the roadmaps in the framework of WP3. The impact of the event is more long- than in the short-term, as its conclusions & stakeholders’ input collection can feed into the development and long-term implementation of the WP3 roadmaps.

Other information: