Inspired by remunicipalisation initiatives all over Europe, an increasing number of local authorities are expanding their role, not just by acting as planners but by operating their own companies and driving the local energy transition. Why is this trend happening? And how can a city set up its own company to supply electricity, gas, heating and cooling? The EU funded projects HeatNet NWE and mPower organised a workshop in Ettlingen (Germany) to answer these questions. Indeed local energy companies can be a powerful driver to develop 4th generation district heating and cooling as the HeatNet NWE partner Mijnwater shows it.
This workshop organised on 28th February and 1st March 2019, brought together representatives from cities, municipal companies, agencies and associations from all over Europe. Participants had the opportunity to listen to the experience of municipalities who successfully became energy producers and/or suppliers. Each speaker highlighted the challenges they encountered, but also the many opportunities brought by their local energy company.
Many factors can lead a local authority to become an operational actor in the energy sector and go beyond planning. Tackling fuel poverty, using local energy sources, achieving climate, energy and environmental targets, re-localising added value and jobs, strengthening local communities are only some of them. In addition, an increased interest in the local economy, decentralised energy technologies, end of concession contracts and a diverse range of new business models offer good opportunities to launch local energy companies. A local/municipal company can make the best out of the local context.
Many business models available
Based on our speakers’ experience, there is not only one way to go. Cities need to identify and seize the favourable opportunities, start rather modestly and to keep expanding the engagement and offers. Energy supplier or producer? Delivering only one form or energy or different ones? What about offering additional services besides energy? The workshop provided an extensive view of the options a local authority can explore before starting its own energy company.
Local customers & financing are key
Among the main issues brought up by the speakers was the necessity of attracting local customers and the investment necessary to set up their energy company. How to involve local energy communities? How to build partnership and create a brand? How to deal with the high upfront investment costs?
Have a look at the workshop report and find out the answers to all these questions…and more!