Energy Cities and REScoop.eu call on the European Union to introduce a crucial new obligation in the revised renewable energy directive in order to reap all the socio-economic benefits of locally-anchored renewable energy systems.
Today, there is no EU-wide harmonised system to guarantee that the local potential for renewable energy production is assessed and harnessed. The EU Covenant of Mayors itself is centred primarily on CO2 reductions and remains a voluntary initiative. However, planning energy supply options by starting at the local level is the best way to secure cross-sector solutions and synergies, while adding the criteria of socio-economic (and not techno-economic) development.
With a new provision in article 23 of the Energy Efficiency Directive, the European Commission is setting a precedent by requiring that cities over 50,000 inhabitants conduct heat planning and that Member States support them in this process ‘to the utmost extent possible’. This new provision could be a game-changer if it effectively forces Member States to take a closer look at solutions for local efficiency gains and renewable energy deployment. This provision should be mirrored in the Renewable Energy Directive by introducing a new requirement to conduct integrated energy mapping and planning at the local level, mirroring the level of national support required in the above-mentioned EED heat planning provision. This would help mainstream emerging methodologies and tools, which local authorities are already developing on a voluntary basis, such as solar atlases and heat maps. Such an obligation would also most likely encourage national authorities to support the creation of decentralised planning bodies instead of relying only on end-of-pipe mechanisms.