100%RES – Recommendation 2 : Creating new urban-rural partnerships


Local governments want to get involved and participate in the economic development of their area together with new, game-changing stakeholders, cooperatives and smaller businesses. Rural communities with sufficient resources (forest, wind, agricultural waste, etc.) and space will be able to produce energy, as they already produce food, and “export” their surpluses (electricity, biogas, wood, etc.) to energy intensive urban areas with insufficient resources to meet all their needs.

New economic models and new players will thereby be able to enter the energy market.

Whereas cities and metropolitan areas have rarely kept themselves busy with their gas, electricity and fuel supplies in the past, the development of renewable and, therefore, more decentralised energy and increasing energy costs have changed the situation. Due to its density, a French city or metropolitan area will find it difficult to have all its energy needs covered by renewable energy produced within its boundaries, even after drastically reducing its energy demand. A 100% renewable energy target therefore involves cooperating with neighbouring land, usually rural, with capacity to produce more energy than they need for their own consumption. But such cooperation requires developing new forms of solidarity and smart systems.

Brest métropole and the Centre-ouest Bretagne area

In March 2015, the French Interministerial Committee for rural affairs decided to pilot the first “city-countryside” reciprocity agreements between volunteering municipalities and associations of municipalities. These agreements are based on a “win-win” approach involving federative projects in the field of food supply, environmental protection or in agricultural and industrial sectors of excellence suited to territorial cooperation initiatives.
The General Directorate for Territorial Equality (CGET) is leading the experiment with volunteer territories including Brest metropole and the Centre-Ouest Bretagne (COB) area which are following two different, but complementary paths in terms of renewable energy. COB is relying on its wind farm and wood resources, whereas Brest métropole has developed an urban infrastructure in which the incinerator and the newly built wood boiler will help reinforce and extend the district heating network. The first step consisted in assessing renewable energy resources and reducing energy use and the territories should now be able to share and develop joint projects. One of these projects will consist of creating a new outlet in Brest métropole for the wood biomass sector being set up in the COB area.

The Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and Greater Lyon

Wood biomass is a strong energy transition driver for Greater Lyon. Its Territorial Climate and Energy Plan has set the objective of having by 2020 160 MW produced by biomass-fuelled boilers connected to a district heating network, which would need 200,000 tons of wood per year. To date, 70 MW of wood biomass energy has been connected to heating networks. If the regional sector fails to keep up with demand, district boiler operators will get their supplies from more distant sources, thus generating additional costs and pollution due to transport and only partial benefits for the local economy. Local stakeholders (foresters, nature conservation organisations, elected representatives, etc.) have decided to join forces and have developed a “territorial forestry project” specifying how the forest should be managed over the next 60 to 80 years. The Sylv’ACCTES association was set up to gain access to a number of financing schemes and ensure the promotion of adequate sustainable forest management whilst creating a link between the city and the countryside, with member cities, communities and organisations being given the opportunity to finance work in forested areas. Sylv’ACCTES will not pay forest owners directly but the companies in charge of planting, pruning, clearing, etc. This approach thereby contributes to preserving jobs in rural areas.

Read the full recommendation and discover other actions like in Saint-Etienne where a “Mobility Mission” has therefore been created and an energy retrofitting platform or in Seine-et-Marne where the SDESM has implemented a project using local resources and financing by a number of local governments of the Ile-de-France Region.

Cities heading towards 100% renewable energy – Food for thought and action
This report provides guidance and solutions to cities and metropolitan areas anxious to embark on a 100% renewable energy path. It is based on the knowledge and experience of the authors’ networks, as well as on around 30 interviews of councillors and city employees from about fifteen French local governments. It also features 5 European pioneers: Barcelona, Frankfurt, Frederikshavn, Geneva and Malmö.

Download: PDF – 7.8 Mb

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Publication date

February 2, 2017