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Advanced policies and market support measures for mobilizing solar district heating investments in European target regions and countries

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - SDHp2m (Advanced policies and market support measures for mobilizing solar district heating investments in European target regions and countries)

Reporting period: 2017-07-01 to 2018-12-31

SDHp2m stands for Solar District Heating (SDH) and actions from policy to market. The project addressed market uptake challenges for a wider use of district heating and cooling systems with high shares of renewable heat sources, specifically the action focuses on the use of large-scale solar thermal plants combined with other renewable sources in district heating and cooling systems.
The key approach of the project was to develop, improve and implement advanced policies and support measures for SDH in 9 participating European regions. In 3 focus regions with high potential the regulating regional authorities were participating as project partners in order to ensure a strong implementation capacity within the project. In 6 follower regions the regulating authorities were engaged through letters of commitment and cooperated with experienced consultant partners. The project activities aimed at a direct mobilization of investments in SDH and hence a significant market rollout due to an improved policy, regulation and financing framework backed with embedded efficient market support and capacity building measures.
The project work program in the participating regions followed a process including 1) strategy and action planning based on a survey, best practices and local stakeholder consultation, 2) an implementation phase starting already at an early stage of the project and 3) efficient communication and dissemination of the project results at national and international level.
In the initial project phase, detailed strategies and action plans were developed in all regions based on surveys of the starting situation and an opinion poll. Already at this early stage, nine regional stakeholder groups were set-up as permanent structures and involved through a communication process and meetings, in order to support the project implementation from a practical side. The stakeholder groups remained active in all project phases, they took part in the international cooperation activities and, in several cases, they could be institutionalized.
A transnational coaching scheme was another important supporting element to the project, especially for newcomer regions. In total, 47 coaching missions took place including e.g. webinars, bilateral web meetings and workshops, delegation travels or planning support.
Based on their action plans, the regional teams developed instruments and measures in three main fields: 1) improvement of regional policy and the legal framework, 2) access to financing and 3) market support. In these fields, the regional teams defined in total 43 measures and started their implementation. Selected examples of such measures are:
- The regional team Styria set-up a “Taskforce land availability” in order to simplify the availability of area for large-scale solar thermal plants and to make available a method for their identification.
- The regional team Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes organized networking with local authorities, in particular sustainable energy communities, and developed a communication guideline for them.
- The regional team Thuringia included SDH into the existing regional incentive programmes “GreenInvest”, “SolarInvest” and created a new incentive line for DH systems in rural areas.
In the nine regions, 14 workshops were organized in order to inform stakeholders about these measures, build-up capacity and support implementation.
In order to address the specific target groups in other European regions and countries, the project partners carried out numerous communication and dissemination activities, such as presentations at international events, trade fair participations, regular newsletters and publications. Furthermore, the regional teams presented their activities and know-how in brochures, but also in concise factsheets which were translated to other EU languages and made available in a well frequented SDH knowledge data base. A highlight were the two editions of the International SDH Conference held in Billund (DK) and Graz (AT) with in total more than 500 participants from 33 countries.
With its actions, the SDHp2m project achieved a relevant impact both, in the regions covered by the project, but also in the EU DHC sector as a whole. New market activities, in terms of new SDH installed capacity, are very heterogeneous in the regions. However, even outside Denmark as an exceptional frontrunner country, market actors installed 36 MWth plant capacity during the project lifetime and around 300 MWth are in planning at project end. In general it can be stated, that SDH became much more known in the DHC sector and that the gap between the sectors of solar thermal and DHC could be bridged. In addition the specific approach of the SDHp2m regions could be successfully transferred and led to replication in 10 cases. In France for example, the national energy agency ADEME could be involved in the project, which supported the transfer of project results to other French regions.
A key lesson learned is, that, although the main legislative power is often assigned to the state governments, regional authorities do have a relevant range of action regarding regulations, authorization procedures and the framework for municipalities. Regions have a relevant size, but are still sufficiently close to the market actors and municipalities. It is in particular efficient to link to existing processes and structures and use them for supporting RES DH. Good examples for such approaches are presented in the specific SDHp2m reports. The direct involvement of regional authorities as project partners of the SDHp2m project made the difference.
SDHp2m Project Team
Solar District Heating in Denmark