100%RES – Recommendation 3 : Funding renewable energy production and energy efficiency

For cities and metropolitan areas, embarking on a 100% renewable energy path involves changing scale and supporting the development of renewable energy production in their own and surrounding areas. This support requires new tools. Capital contributions to renewable energy production projects enable the local authority to improve project viability by increasing the amount of equity, depending on the investment resources available to it.

It also means that the local authority is involved in project governance and can ensure that the territory will benefit from the profits made. Opening capital up to citizen investment contributes to improving project acceptance. This is possible in the case of energy efficiency projects, like public lighting for instance.

Part of the revenues generated by renewable energy production projects may also be used to finance measures aimed at reducing energy use (supporting households with a home renovation project, improving public lighting energy efficiency, retrofitting public buildings, etc.), thus creating a virtuous circle towards achieving 100% renewable energy.

SEM (Société d’Économie Mixte), SPL (Société Publique Locale), SA or SAS, cooperative… are possible options for french cities wanting to invest in renewable energy production projects.


In line with its Air, Energy and Climate Plan objectives and taking advantage of the opportunities offered by the new French Energy Transition Act, the Grenoble Metropolitan Council decided to invest in local and community renewable energy production projects. In June 2016, it agreed to invest in SAS Energ’y Citoyennes, a joint-stock company with local democratic governance whose aim is to promote and develop decentralised electricity production from renewable sources.


In order to reach 50% of renewable energy in its building stock by 2020, the City of Lorient also relies on the production of electricity for its own use via PV panels installed on its buildings (schools, city hall, etc.). 
The PV panels are bought by the OnCIMè collective and the city council rents them from it. As the city councillor in charge of energy transition says: “The objective is to produce for our own use rather than for sale. Producing our own energy is cheaper, makes us more independent and frees us from market prices”.

Métropole de Lyon

The “Toits en transition” (Roofs in transition) association was created to promote the development of community PV solar production units on public and private buildings in the Greater Lyon and surrounding areas with the support of Greater Lyon and in partnership with Énergie Partagée and Enercoop.

SEML Vendée Énergie

Since the early 2000s, local governments in the Vendée department (West-Central France) have been setting an example by becoming local renewable electricity producers. A publicly-owned company was created in 2002 and transformed into Vendée Énergie, a local SEMVendée Énergie now owns 25% of the assets producing wind and PV generated electricity in Vendée, enough to cover the needs of 40,000 households.

Read all recommandations to follow to reach 100% RES by 2050

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

© : ville de Lorient, Matthieu Riegler CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons, Toits en transition, Vendée Énergie, Shutterstock


Publication date

March 7, 2017