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Municipal Action, Public Engagement and Routes Towards Energy Transition

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - mPOWER (Municipal Action, Public Engagement and Routes TowardsEnergy Transition)

Okres sprawozdawczy: 2019-11-01 do 2021-04-30

MPOWER confronts the issue of how municipal authorities across Europe can best succeed in advancing the energy transition away from carbon-based fuels towards renewables. It involves an in-depth, wide-scale and systematic peer-to-peer learning programme across the continent’s municipal (as in local, sub-national) public authorities, in order to replicate innovative best practices in municipal energy and develop ambitious energy transition plans. Local action – particularly in urban areas which account for 75 per cent of Europe’s population – will be critical to tackling the climate emergency. In this respect, local municipal action, together with citizen participation and effective forms of public energy organisation, are key aspects of the project.
Some European cities, particularly in Germany, Denmark and France, have made innovations in energy sector management, from running distribution networks, new supply companies, and renewable generation, to facilitating citizen participation processes, to sourcing public/alternative finance for energy projects. Other cities across Europe are exploring their options for municipal energy and are looking to learn from examples of best practice elsewhere. mPOWER is mapping existing municipal energy policy and identifying innovations and best practice, as well as obstacles and barriers. A key concern is with overcoming the barriers facing municipal actors. To this end, the project’s core concern is encouraging peer-learning among municipalities and the adoption of successful strategies to achieve energy transition.
The overall objectives of the project are:
• To map and document best practice in municipal energy transition
• To undertake a European wide peer learning initiative to disseminate best practice
• To accelerate the process of energy transition across European municipalities.
We have carried out a number of research study visits to leading municipalities across Europe (including Hamburg, Ghent, Ljubljana and Ettlingen) in diverse geographical settings and plan to do more if and when the Pandemic situations allows. These visits have been usually in triangulating our earlier findings and adding depth to the explanations we are developing of municipal action on energy transitions.
We have carried out a number of research study visits to leading municipalities across Europe (including Hamburg, Ghent, Ljubljana and Ettlingen) in diverse geographical settings and plan to do more if and when the Pandemic situations allows. These visits have been usually in triangulating our earlier findings and adding depth to the explanations we are developing of municipal action on energy transitions.
We have completed the delivery of mPOWER Exchange, our bespoke peer-peer learning programme, that worked with small groups with no more than six municipalities at a time. This part of the programme consisted of study visits, expert witness sessions and peer-peer learning and problem solving. mPOWER Exchange’s final output’s were replication plans and a celebration event.
In preparation for the delivery of mPOWER Digital, we conducted three study visits to Nis, Burgas and Brussels. These have been turned into three documentaries and they will be available online over the next few months.
We have coordinated and delivered mPOWER Digital, our online learning programme, three times. mPOWER Digital is a comprehensive course in how municipalities can deliver a fair, clean and democratic energy transition whilst considering participation and addressing energy poverty. We focus on different forms of public and community ownership, as well as public-public, public-civic and public-private partnerships. The course uses case studies of best practice in the municipal energy transition from across Europe. In each course the content has expanded with new materials that have been developed by the project, including podcasts, videos and blogs. Project participants can continue to share and disseminate learning on our mailing list and in our Facebook group. In the next reporting period we will put all of the learning materials online and further disseminate them to a wider audience.
Key learnings from mPOWER Digital are the importance of learning spaces for local authorities in realising a just, fair and democratic energy transition. We also learnt that many local authorities simply do not have the capacity to explore best practice, and having knowledge of what other options are available has helped them to build a case within their own contexts for more ambitious plans.
We have started to coordinate and deliver mPOWER Activate, our bespoke one-one incubator programme. This part of the project works one on one with a municipality to support them towards realising an aspect of their energy transition plans. Further work will continue on this throughout the remainder of 2021.
A key difficulty for many municipalities is a lack of strategic capacity, resources and also finance in pursuing climate mitigation strategies and achieving targets. For many municipalities, a core focus has been on repurposing public assets, infrastructures and buildings that are under their control. On the other hand, a major obstacle to transition appears to be related to private buildings and assets, which are typically less controllable for municipal authorities even if the will for transition is present. The potential for new forms of public energy organisation that circumvent some of the resistance encountered by private actors is also a key emerging theme.
Our findings suggest that the vast majority of municipalities are now involved in producing their own renewable forms of energy, with solar power and biomass being particularly prevalent. The opportunity to use biomass alongside CHP in district heating systems seems to be a popular option for both producing energy and improving efficiencies. While municipalities as a whole do not seem to have advanced far in terms of more technologically sophisticated smart grid systems and networks, there are some excellent and innovative examples emerging in the retro-fitting of buildings that might be replicable elsewhere as forms of best practice.
By drawing upon and sharing examples of best practice through the remainder of the project, it is anticipated that the peer-to-peer learning aspects will help to disseminate innovative solutions to energy transition elsewhere. Developing further analysis of the blockages and constraints encountered and the creative strategies that municipalities develop – including constructing new forms of finance and new partnerships with other actors – will be key elements of the remainder of the project.
mpower RP2-
mpower RP2