Local and Regional Authorities and the renewable energy sources - CG (11) 29 Part II

Ute Koczy, Germany,
Chamber of Regions
Political Group: NR



Document prepared by Mr Gerd Marx, North-Rhine Westfalia Energy Agency (Germany)

1. Introduction

The future of energy supplies belongs to renewable energy sources and intelligent energy services. The most important source of renewable energy is waterpower, which actually plays the biggest part in the production of renewable energy. It is the one source which, amongst all forms of renewable energy production, has the lowest impact on the environment and its potential is considerable. The traditional sources of energy – oil, gas, coal and nuclear power – will have to be further diversified in the medium to long term. In order to achieve this objective, the local, regional and national governments of a number of EU states are already promoting the development of renewable energy sources, and this investment-friendly legal framework is opening up excellent prospects in this market, which has considerable future potential.

One reason for a shift in the energy mix away from conventional energy sources such as coal, oil or gas towards renewables is the depletion of resources. Even if energy consumption remains at today’s levels, conventional energy sources will largely be exhausted in the course of this century. In addition, it must be assumed that energy consumption will increase dramatically, which will result in resources being exhausted even more quickly. The production of energy from conventional sources goes hand in hand with environmentally harmful emissions; these can be reduced by exploiting renewable energy sources.

Energy sources such as the sun, wind, water, biomass and geothermy will in the future play an increasingly more important role in the energy mix. Renewable energy sources are indispensable for an effective climate protection strategy and make it possible to develop a decentralised energy supply structure on the spot. This is important because the European Union’s dependence on energy imports is increasing all the time. The EU currently meets 50% of its energy requirements through imports, and this dependence has economic, social, ecological and security implications for the Union. This situation can be dealt with by developing a strategy for securing the energy supply.

It is essential to ensure that in the near future a much larger proportion of our energy requirements is met through renewable energy sources so that negotiated or existing environmental and climate protection obligations can be fulfilled. At the same time, crucial opportunities for economic development are being missed. The targeted further development of renewable energy sources will result in a considerable boost for the regional and local job markets. The Swiss research institute Prognos expects almost 200,000 new and permanent jobs to be created by the year 2020. There are already 120,000 people in Europe working in the renewable energy industry – more, incidentally, than in the nuclear or coal industry.

The potential, including possible export opportunities, is enormous. The EU is a world leader in the construction of plant and machinery. The development of the market in the wind power sector, for example, has resulted in an efficient industry with major export possibilities. Sales of renewable energy systems have seen strong growth on the world market, and this development has been accompanied by a lowering of production costs. Given the global climate problems, the market for EU-based companies has a big future.

Decisive steps are being taken for regional and local development, especially in view of the decentralised nature of renewable energy sources. The production and use of renewables has a lasting effect on the promotion of regional development. Social and economic co-operation is being improved at regional and local levels within the community and living standards within the EU are being brought into line at the same time.

2. Basic conditions for the development of renewable energy sources in the European Union

The global, and therefore international, climate protection process and the resulting national climate and environmental protection strategies are gathering speed. European states are developing investment-friendly conditions for renewable energy sources with binding long-term tariffs for feeding power into the grid, and this is resulting in the development of a growing market for renewable energy sources with current annual growth rates of 20% and higher.

In the long term, the positive development of renewable energy sources will be dependent to a considerable extent on political decisions and objectives. The international and, in particular, the European dimension will become more and more important in bringing about the basic conditions necessary, such as climate protection or the development of new markets. One of the most important milestones for international climate protection policy was the drafting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, adopted in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

The Framework Convention was given concrete shape at several conferences of the parties, the most important of which took place in 1997 in Kyoto, where delegates held the first detailed talks on goals and time frames. The so-called Kyoto Protocol lays down that industrial countries must, by 2008 or at the latest 2102, reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 5.2% compared with the base year of 1990. For the EU, the target for reductions is 8%. Burden-sharing among the individual EU states has been decided upon by the EU environment ministers, who took account of the current level of per capita emissions and any catching-up states need to do in terms of development.

Percentage change in emissions of 6 greenhouse gases
(in % compared with 1990)


- 13.0


- 7.5


- 21.0






- 21.0


+ 25.0


+ 13.0


- 6.5


- 28.0


- 6.0


+ 27.0


+ 15.0


+ 4,0

United Kingdom

- 12.5

EU 15

- 8

Table 1: Burden-sharing for emission reduction in the member states
(Source: Federal Environment Ministry)

If, with reference to the base year, we look at changes in climate-relevant emissions in the last thirteen years, we see that there has been a genuine decline in very few countries up to now. In Germany and, in particular, the east European states, especially the Russian Federation, the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, which in some cases has been considerable, is only partially due to climate-protection measures, the main reason being economic restructuring and the closure of unprofitable (coal-fired) power stations.

For the EU, the development certainly seems promising at first glance, since greenhouse gas emissions were reduced by about 3.5% by the year 2000. In Europe, the link between economic development and increasing levels of greenhouse gas emissions would appear to have been severed. However, there is still some work to do both at European level and in individual member states if the goal that the EU as a whole has promised to meet is to be achieved. Experience shows that there is a certain time-lag before concrete climate protection measures take effect, so action must be taken quickly.

2.1 Green Paper “Towards a European strategy for the security of energy supply” (COM (2000) 769)

An extensive debate on securing the energy supply within the EU was launched in 1996 with the Green Paper “Towards a European strategy for the security of energy supply” as the foundation for discussions. This document points out that, on the basis of current developments, the Union will have to cover 70% of its energy requirements from imported sources in 20 to 30 years’ time. The tripling of the crude oil price from 1999 to 2000 shows the consequences of such a development: the value of energy imports was €120 billion in 1997 and rose to €240 billion in 1999 alone, ie 6% of total imports. In order to deal with the growing dependence on imports, the Commission initially mainly backed measures to reduce energy demand since this is much easier to influence in the short term than supply. On the supply side, the greater use of renewable energy sources has been recognised as a priority option. In order to ensure the supply of fossil energy sources and restructure the energy supply on the basis of renewables, ambitious and consistent measures are therefore required.

2.2 White Paper “Energy for the future: Renewable sources of energy” (COM (1997) 599 final)

One of the most quoted sources on the subject of renewables in Europe is no doubt the European Commission’s White Paper on “Energy for the future: Renewable sources of energy”, which is playing an important role in the political debate on a sustainable energy supply. It states that 12% of the EU’s gross domestic energy consumption should be accounted for by renewables (solar energy, water power, wind energy and biomass) by 2010. If the goals specified in it are achieved, there will be an annual reduction in carbon dioxide emissions of about 400 million tonnes and a reduction in the dependence on imports of fossil energy sources. It is expected that there will be a considerable impact on the provision of jobs: the investment of €113 billion estimated to be necessary to achieve the development goal could result in the creation of a million jobs throughout Europe. This would be bolstered by a good competitive position on international markets. According to estimates, exports could rise to about €17 billion by 2010.

2.3 EU Directive on the promotion of electricity from renewable energy sources (Directive 2001/77/EC)

In Germany, the first “Law on the promotion of electricity from renewable energy sources in the internal electricity market”, which implements the EU Directive, entered into force in November 2001.

The aim of the Directive is to achieve a doubling by 2010 of renewable energy sources as a proportion of total electricity production. In order to bring about a clear sharing of burdens with regard to the development of renewables, national targets to be met by the member states have also been drawn up. The intention is for the overall share of renewables in electricity production in the EU (just under 14% in the base year of 1997) to rise to about 22% in 2010.

Two years after the adoption of the Directive on renewable energy sources, the EU appears to be a long way from achieving the agreed objectives for “green” power. According to an IMF study, the EU member states will not be able to achieve the stated goal of a 22% share of renewable energy sources in the total amount of electricity produced in the EU by 2010 and will probably not manage more than 17%. The IMF fears that none of the member states will achieve its national goal. According to the study, most member states have not succeeded in eliminating the obstacles to the introduction of renewables onto the market. It points out that only Spain and Germany have been able to set up a successful system of guaranteed minimum prices and that other countries will now follow their good example.

1977 Geneva: 1st World Climate Conference on climate and global security
1992 Rio de Janeiro: 154 countries sign the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
1994 Entry into force of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
1995 Berlin: 1st Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
1996 Presentation of the European Commission’s Green Paper “Towards a European strategy for the security of energy supply “
1997 Presentation of the European Commission’s White Paper on “Energy for the future: Renewable sources of energy”
1997 Kyoto: 3rd Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Adoption of the Kyoto Protocol, according to which the industrial countries must reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by at least 5.2% by 2012 at the latest.
2000 Decision of the European Parliament and the Council on a multiannual programme for the promotion of renewable energy sources.
2001 1st EU Directive on the promotion of electricity from renewable energy sources
Milestones achieved to date on the way to global and EU-wide climate protection

2.4 The Emission Directive (96/61/EC)

In order to reduce greenhouse gases, Europe is pinning its hopes on trading in emissions: from 1 January 2005 onwards, companies in Europe will be able to trade emission rights among themselves. The idea behind this is quite simple: emissions have to be reduced to protect the climate, and it does not matter where this is done. Companies will therefore be allocated the precise number of emission certificates that will enable the EU member states to meet their obligations for bringing about reductions. Companies must “manage” the certificates they are allocated. They can increase their energy efficiency and thus reduce their CO2 emissions to use up their quota of certificates but they can also buy additional certificates from other companies in Europe. This means that climate protection will in practice take place where this can be done in the most economic way.

It is difficult to assess the likely impact of the trading of emission rights on the development of renewable energy sources, and there are considerable differences of opinion in the public debate on this issue. Any long-term effects cannot really be foreseen at the moment, not least because not all member states have made the same progress on developing an EU-wide emission rights trading system. The full impact of this trade will presumably only be felt in the long term when the construction of new power stations and the closure of old ones shifts the structure of public electricity and heat generation towards lower carbon energy sources (such as natural gas) or carbon-free sources (such as renewables).

2.5 Liberalisation of the energy markets

When the EC internal electricity market directive (96/92/EC) was adopted, the stage was set for competition in the electricity sector. So far, the markets in individual EU member states have been opened up to differing degrees. In Germany, amendments to the law governing the energy production industry resulted back in April 1998 in the electricity market being fully opened up without any transitional arrangements. In France, the Directive has not yet been fully implemented and the French electricity market will only be gradually opened up to domestic and foreign competition in the next few years. While competition is taking hold in the networked energy sector, there is a political will to double the proportion of renewable energy sources in the EU. Against the background of falling energy prices and in view of the global oversupply of fossil energy, the implementation of ambitious development goals hardly seems possible at the moment, but this short-term oversupply must not mislead anyone into ignoring the longer-term prospects. However, when even the Royal Dutch/Shell group, which thinks in terms of strategic objectives, assumes there will be a significant increase in the proportion of regenerative energy sources in the 21st century, the direction in which the energy industry has to go now seems clear. In order also to be able to serve new markets with tomorrow’s new technologies, the foundations for development must be laid today and the political course for the energy industry must be set now. In this connection, it is also necessary for the global and EU-wide goal with regard to the development of renewable energy sources to be transposed to regional and local structures and for a clear political stance to be adopted.

3) Current use of renewable energy sources in the EU

Just under 70% of primary energy in the European Union is consumed in Germany, the United Kingdom, France and Italy, so it is clear that, although smaller member states, such as Austria and Denmark, very often play an important role in providing new impetus and setting an example, there must be a considerable increase in the share of renewable energy sources in these four countries. Only then will it be possible to achieve the goal of doubling that share.

Fig: Use of renewable energy sources in the year 2000 in the EU countries and their proportion of primary energy consumption (PEC)
(Source: Frijthof Staiss; Jahrbuch Erneuerbare Energien 02/03, p. I-256)

In the year 2000, 6.1% of the EU’s primary energy requirements was provided by renewable energy sources, representing a proportional increase of 34% since 1990.

Fig.: Structure of primary energy consumption in the year 2000 in the EU. Total approx. 60,000 petajoules
(Source: Frijthof Staiss; Jahrbuch Erneuerbare Energien 02/03, p. I-257)

About 16.5% of electricity generation in the EU is currently based on renewable energy sources, with water power providing the largest share. As a result of an overall increase in electricity generation, this share has risen only slightly since 1990 (14.4%). According to the goals set out in the European Directive, a share of 22% is to be achieved by 2010. It is therefore obvious that considerable efforts are still necessary with regard to energy saving, energy efficiency and the use of renewables.


Power from renewable energy sources 1997

Power from renewable energy sources 1997

Power from renewable energy sources 2010

























































United Kingdom




Total EU

338.41 TWh


22 %

Table 2: Reference values for national targets for electricity from renewable energy sources as a proportion of gross electricity consumption by 2010
(Source: EU Directive on the promotion of electricity from renewable energy sources)

In the heating market, on the other hand, only biomass is currently of any importance as an energy source. The 9% share of renewables in the end energy used in the EU to provide heat is almost exclusively based on biomass.

Renewables have up to now been used relatively little in the transport sector, in comparison with the electricity and heating market. This is set to change with the entry into force of the EU Directive on the promotion of the use of biofuels or other renewable fuels for transport. This requires member states to ensure that biofuels account for a minimum proportion of the fuel available on their markets for transport. It lays down that by 31 December 2005 all EU states must ensure that the minimum share of biofuels is 2%. The upper limit for a blend is 5% as the fuel would, under legislation governing fuel quality, otherwise no longer be classified as petrol or diesel.

4) Obstacles to the use of renewable energy sources at local and regional level

The basic conditions that apply to these technologies must be seen as general and fundamental obstacles to the use of renewables since they impede the realisation of their technical and, in particular, economic potential. In individual countries/regions of the EU, these obstacles derive in some cases from a large number of historically based legal, institutional, financial and other directives, procedures, customs and other factors. These basic conditions have become established in the course of the historical development of the energy industry, which has as a rule pursued other objectives than the use of renewable energy sources. In many cases, therefore, the current conditions and the structure of the present energy system affected by them act as an obstacle to renewables becoming much more widespread.

4.1 Low prices

The generally low prices of conventional energy sources resulting from the failure to take account of external costs and the finite nature of energy resources are a major obstacle to the further spread of renewables. Uncertain energy price expectations make it difficult to make safe assessments of return on investments and to make amortisation projections for technologies close to the break-even threshold. The price structure is distorted even more by the system of charges and subsidies. However, the cheaper the natural energy resources available are – and the more expensive labour and capital are as market factors – the lower the cost-related incentive is for processes to replace the supply of conventional energy by renewables. The generally low amount spent on energy as a proportion of the total expenditure of a business undertaking also makes the employment of renewable energy sources unattractive compared with other options. This particularly affects renewable technologies because small or uncertain markets in some segments impede technical and economic improvements to them.

4.2 Funding

Many economically sound projects fail at the funding and implementation stage because there are considerable disparities with regard to the yield expected by investors (the so-called “pay-back gap”). While on the energy supply side, expectations on returns are between 15 and 25 years (this normally corresponds to the life of the plant), in industry they are generally between 3 and 5 years (and in private households often even only one year), which places investments in renewables at a disadvantage. Moreover, public investments in renewable energy are often impeded owing to the constraints of current budgetary legislation.

4.3 Lack of information

There is still a considerable lack of information for potential users with regard to ways of employing renewable energy sources. The technological diversity and disparate nature of these sources and the fact they are new make it difficult for users to carry out a proper assessment. In contrast to energy suppliers, investors in renewables are often not energy experts but laypeople. The same frequently applies to the staff of credit institutions who are asked to make a judgment on the financing of plants, and there are few incentives to obtain information. In addition, it has emerged that fitters, architects and others often have insufficient knowledge themselves. Owing to the decentralised nature of renewable energy sources, a very large number of people have to be involved in the implementation of measures in comparison with the present “energy supplier system”. Information and training are thus of fundamental importance and they must form part of a highly differentiated approach and be made available on a very broad basis.

4.4 Lack of motivation

In order to bring about a change in the present energy system, many players have to be involved at different levels and be convinced of the need for this change. However, in many sections of the population and in business and political circles there is often a lack of motivation for making such a change. This is probably because people are insufficiently aware of the problems posed by the existing dangers to the environment and because of the low priority they attach to environmental action compared with other measures that affect them either personally or professionally. Only recently has a discussion begun of the possible advantages of renewable energy sources in addition to their environmental benefits, and this might lead to greater motivation among those concerned.

4.5 Legal obstacles

Legal obstacles come about because there has in the past been undue emphasis on conventional energy supplies as opposed to renewables, and such obstacles stand in the way of the development of renewable technologies in particular. In most cases, they arise because the legal system takes insufficient account of the specific features of these technologies, and this results in their unintentionally being de facto placed at a disadvantage by the laws, regulations or directives concerned. In addition, official fee scales and regulations concerning the manual trades have not been adapted to take account of what are in some cases new requirements of renewables.

4.6 Organisational obstacles

Organisational obstacles primarily come about due to the structure of institutions and their resulting inflexibility. For example, many businesses and public authorities do not yet have any specialists for the optimisation of their own energy supply, or else such posts carry insufficient responsibilities. There are organisational problems in some cases on the suppliers’ side, too. For example, there is no small-scale infrastructure available for supplying wood chips to private households, and the arrangements for looking after and maintaining systems that use renewables are frequently inadequate. Among public authorities and government departments, there is still some confusion as to where responsibilities lie (for example, in the case of organic waste).

4.7 Support schemes

In the case of renewable energy sources, some of the state support schemes available in the past have turned out to be too erratic, have been announced without sufficient warning and have proved to be inadequately funded. Very often, the financial support, which is often too low, especially at regional or local level, simply has no effect at all because potential users shy away from the effort involved in making an application for a small amount of money and prefer to wait for bigger grants, while on the suppliers’ side no new and more efficient production capacity is created. Moreover, the different support schemes operated by the federal, regional and local governments are too bewildering in their variety for the potential recipients, who are confronted with complicated application forms and long drawn-out approval procedures.

4.8 Technical obstacles

One technical obstacle with regard to renewable energy sources is still the lack in some cases of reliable, mature and – with regard to important applications – standardised plants, with the result that potential investors often shy away from the risk. This obstacle becomes less significant with the availability of the relevant support schemes and the resulting enlargement of the market. Natural features of renewables, such as their low energy density or the fact that the availability of sunshine or wind depends on the time of day, do not constitute obstacles. They manifest themselves in higher energy production costs (eg, storage) or limit the technical potential.

5) Instruments for the promotion of renewable energy sources at local and regional authority level

A number of instruments for the implementation of effective climate protection, and therefore the further development of renewable energy sources, have been referred to, grouped together and commented on many times in the last few years (cf in particular the German parliamentary commission of inquiry (Enquete-Kommission) of 1990 and 1995; Federal Environment Ministry, 1993; IMA, 1994; Altner et. al, 1995; Ikarus, 1997, Arbeitsgemeinschaft DLR, 1998). These instruments consist of various types of measures that are likely to eliminate the obstacles to greater exploitation of renewables, referred to in section 4.

The many economic, structural, administrative and legal barriers and the obstacles that are caused by poor information and training that still hamper the development of these technologies yet to become firmly established in the energy sector have to be understood in the context of the tremendous technical potential of these energy sources.

In principle, the ways of eliminating obstacles to the use of renewables can be divided into four categories.

Financial instruments
Direct and indirect financial measures of various kinds aimed at improving the competitiveness of renewable energy sources at home and abroad. These measures are generally understood to include quantity-based support instruments that, as a result of the (statutory) establishment of quotas, can mobilise the necessary investments. They should also be understood to include voluntary or private measures with which funds are made available for the investments necessary, even if plants are not economic or only receive proportional financial assistance. They also indirectly include the imposition of taxes on conventional energy sources or their emissions, since this reduces the cost difference vis-à-vis renewables. The actual use of the tax revenue is of only secondary importance in this connection.

Regulatory instruments
These are measures to improve the basic legal, structural and administrative framework and thus facilitate investments in systems for the use of renewables. In addition to incentives, these measures may be rules prescribing the use of renewable energy.

Instruments for improving information and training
These are measures carried out to improve the knowledge of all the players involved – especially executive staff, the authorities responsible for granting approval and teaching establishments – with regard to the functioning, efficiency and economic viability of renewable energy sources.

Supporting measures
Essentially, these are research and development projects and demonstrations aimed at ensuring constant improvements to, and the spreading of, the technological basis of renewable energy sources and at promoting the marketing and export of plants; better international co-ordination, etc.

The Commission of Inquiry on the Protection of the Earth’s Atmosphere points out that it is in principle unnecessary to develop any new instruments to eliminate obstacles. Measures proposed or partly carried out up to now should, on the other hand, be improved, more broadly applied and combined into effective packages on the basis of experience gained in different regions/municipalities.

Up to now, two main types of instruments have been employed: firstly, financial instruments, which mainly take the form of price-based support measures and the voluntary use of additional funds to cover the “economic shortfall” in the case of installing small private units (photovoltaic, solar, wood-fired heating systems); secondly, different information and training measures, supplemented by a number of supporting measures, especially the promotion of research, development and demonstration projects as a basic prerequisite for the successful opening up of the market to renewables. Regulatory instruments have, on the other hand, up to now only been employed very sparingly for the promotion of renewables.

Below are a number of examples of recommendations on what action to take with regard to the above instruments available to regions and municipalities for the promotion of renewables.

Financial incentives
The introduction and distribution of renewable energy sources must be assisted by means of support programmes or new, intelligent funding models in order to ensure the rapid development of these sources. The starting-points for regions and municipalities could be as follows:

Regional / Local energy advice bureaux
The main aim of these bureaux would be to provide citizens and decision-makers with independent and impartial advice in order to fill any gaps in the information they have on renewable energy sources and to disseminate unbiased information in a targeted fashion. The possible tasks of such agencies could be:

It is important when establishing such a body to ensure that it does not compete with existing trade and industry undertakings or other service providers on the market but limits its activities exclusively to its role as an information provider, motivator and facilitator and does not prevent anyone in the regions/municipalities from launching their own initiatives.

Initial and in-service training

General education and training in the field of renewable energy sources should be promoted in a targeted fashion.

6. Examples

6.1 North Rhine-Westphalia’s Directive for the Promotion of Sales of Wood

Since the end of 1998, the Ministry for the Environment and Nature Conservation in North Rhine-Westphalia has been providing financial support for turning wood into energy in automatic wood-fired plants. The Directive for the Promotion of Sales of Wood created a support scheme that not only provides financial assistance for wood-fired systems but also for making the environmentally-friendly fuel available. With grants of up to 40%, it has triggered a genuine boom in this area of renewable energy sources in the last five years. By the end of 2003 more than €23 million had been paid out in grants for a total of 1,630 wood-fired systems.

Rated thermal output







up to 50 kW







51-100 kW







101-300 kW







301-1,000 kW







> 1,000 kW














[million €]






Table: Wood-fired heating systems receiving financial support in North Rhine-Westphalia under the Directive for the Promotion of Sales of Wood

The Directive is divided into two sections, one dealing with making wood available and preparing it for burning and the other with measures for using it as a source of energy. The intention is to provide financial support not only for the widely available, technically mature automatic wood-fired systems but also for the development of a fuel supply facility. Especially with regard to supplies of this fuel, the infrastructure in North Rhine-Westphalia is in many cases still inadequate. The first question the potential market player faces is how good the financial prospects are in this field. The market for wood pellets in North Rhine-Westphalia can be described as mature, and the two wood pellet production plants (capacity approximately 15,000 tonnes a year) and the more than 60 dealers ensure full coverage for the consumer. Less well developed are the wood chip supply facilities, which have up to now been built almost exclusively on an individual basis for large municipal heating stations. Small buyers often have great difficulty in obtaining good quality wood chips in small quantities. Against this background, the Directive also pursues the aim of developing and building regional supply facilities. Given the increasing awareness of wood as a source of energy and the rise in demand, especially in municipalities and among consumers, it is already possible to discern positive trends.

The use of wood as a fuel is not entirely unknown, particularly in workshops and factories that process wood. Consequently, a number of wood-burning systems have been operated in the past, not least because this material is cheap. However, here too, the acceptance of these systems could be increased if they were replaced by a more efficient and more reliable heating system. In particular, however, the planning and construction of many municipal biomass heating stations also show that the Directive closed a gap in the provision of grants that can at least partly compensate for the bigger investments necessary in the more elaborate technology involved in the provision and burning of solid fuel. The ability of a wood-fired system to operate economically is also shown by the low fuel prices compared with fossil energy sources, with the result that the systems built to date are not only ecologically but also economically competitive.
The implementation of a number of projects also makes it clear to the public that a project involving the use of wood as a source of energy does not require any pioneering work to be done first, that mature technology exists and that experienced fitters, planners and system manufacturers are available. It is necessary to continue to initiate model projects and to make this new (old) technology more widely known in order to support the development of the market for wood as a source of energy and encourage more people to step forward and make the running for others to follow.

6.2 Jühnde bio-energy village

Initiated by Göttingen University, the aim of the “bio-energy village “ project is to make a contribution to the implementation of sustainable lifestyles by providing an example of switching an entire village’s electricity and heating supply to a biomass-based system with the active participation of the village population. This involves building a biogas plant and heating station in the village and laying the pipes for a district heating network. Jühnde, which is in the south of the German Land of Lower Saxony, was chosen as a model village to demonstrate the use of renewables, in this case biomass. Together with the village population and an engineering firm, plans were drawn up for the project’s implementation, and legally binding preliminary contracts were concluded with the future heating service clients. The application for planning permission and the design and implementation plans are currently being drawn up in order to be able to commence building the plants and laying the district heating network as soon as possible.

Through village assemblies, surveys of the village inhabitants, inspection visits, working groups, a central planning group and the holding of workshops on technical and legal issues, structures were established that enabled the village population to participate in the planning process. The basic work on the project’s implementation was carried out in the individual working groups: the Operating Company Working Group (WG), the Biogas Plant WG, the Wood Biomass WG, the Plant Biomass WG, the Village Heating Network WG, the Wood-Chip Factory WG, the Technical Facilities WG and the Public Relations WG.

It is planned to build a biogas plant that will run on 10,000 cubic metres of liquid manure and 2,200 tonnes of dry mass a year. Energy crops are to be grown on 150 hectares of land. The plant will produce more electricity than the village needs. Its block-type thermal power station will feed about 60% of the village’s heating needs into the heating network. In the winter, a wood-fired heating station will provide additional heat. For the few very cold days and in order to provide security in the case of a breakdown, an oil-fired boiler will be available in reserve.

70% of the households in Jühnde have already promised to obtain their heating from the network; consequently the overall plan will be economically worthwhile. The village community intends to pay €3 million out of the total costs of €4.5 million themselves – it will become their very own bio-energy supply.

6.3 The Upper Austrian energy plan

More than 30% of energy consumption in Upper Austria already comes from environmentally-friendly forms of energy such as water power, biomass, solar energy, wind power or geothermal heat – six times more than the EU average. Renewable energy sources, such as solar energy, biomass/wood, geothermal heat, wind power and water power are, in contrast to the limited stocks of fossil fuels, virtually inexhaustible as a result of the continuous resupply of energy from the sun. Renewables are mostly domestic energy sources thanks to which the dependence on energy imports can be reduced.

Overview of the results of the plan’s implementation in 2002:

Ø new applied science university course on eco energy technology and creation of a new specialised occupation of “eco-energy fitter”
Ø 15,100 modern automatic wood-fired heating systems, making up 32% of wood chip heating plants installed in Austria
Ø additional 49,000m² of thermal solar panels, making a total of over 600,000m²
Ø 4,300 houses built or restored using energy-saving construction techniques
Ø 15,000 annual advisory interviews on energy use; comprehensive provision of information on how to save energy
Ø largest European eco energy conference held in Wels, Upper Austria
Ø energy industry planning and consultancy service for trade and industry
Ø Eco Energy Cluster, involving 118 partner firms (as at 31.12.2002)
Ø focus on research on energy technology
Ø support for young energy researchers
Ø new support scheme for company solar and biomass plants
Ø new Upper Austrian law on air purity and energy technology
Ø new federal law on eco electricity
Ø 22,000 heating plants renewed under a support programme
Ø 15 wind power plants
Ø successful participation in EU strategies and programmes

An energy plan initially setting out concrete objectives up to the year 2000 was unanimously adopted by the provincial government in 1994. These objectives relate to both supply and consumption. The second phase of the plan – Energy 21 – was decided upon in the year 2000 and involves the current objectives being extended or supplemented up to 2010. In order for these objectives to be implemented, greater efforts have to be made at all levels but particularly at regional level. As a result of their proximity to the energy users, local businesses and the regional players are able to use many different ways of complying– in terms of both quantity and quality – with objectives such as the Kyoto goals.

The changes in Upper Austria’s energy supply system can be seen in the individual energy types and sectors mentioned in the energy statistics which are periodically published. For example, as early as 2001, 30% of gross domestic energy consumption was accounted for by renewables.

In the field of renewable energy sources, Upper Austria can look back on an extremely successful market development. In order to ensure that this trend continues and to maintain the technological edge in the long term, the so-called Upper Austrian Eco Energy Cluster (OEC) was established at the beginning of the year 2000. Its membership comprises the entire eco energy industry in Upper Austria, and companies and organisations operating in the fields of biomass, biogas, solar energy, wind energy, heat pump production, geothermy and small-scale water power all work together under its umbrella. 122 companies whose main activities include the provision of information, communication, training courses/qualifications, co-operation, research and development, exports, marketing and public relations work have entered into a partnership with the OEC since March 2000.

The basis of the OEC’s work is the development of an information platform that, among other things, comprises the production of its presentation leaflet, its website www.oekoenergie-cluster.at and the publication of its catalogue of member companies and its newsletter “OEC-Cluster-News”. Several events have served to encourage the discussion of technical solutions and the development of concrete market strategies. In addition, two market surveys have been produced on “The pellet market and customer satisfaction” and “The pellet market from the manufacturers’ point of view”.

The OEC organised a joint stand at the World Biomass Conference in order to boost its members’ export activities. For its partners interested in the Scandinavian market, it organised a biomass export tour to Finland. The OEC team already looks after several co-operation projects, such as one on solar energy systems involving the participation of 14 Cluster companies.

6.4 Zoetermeer (Netherlands)

The Zoetermeer town council has pursued a sustainable energy policy for more than five years. In June 1996, it agreed to a strategy plan in which future energy saving targets of around 15 to 25% would be laid down for various groups. It is, however, difficult to achieve these ambitious goals.

For this reason, in April 1999 the town council, with support from the European Commission’s SAVE programme, set up a local energy agency known as Energie Agentschap Zoetermeer (EAZ). Members of its board include the local players, such as the Chamber of Commerce, a bank, utility companies and consumer organisations.

The key role of the EAZ is to bridge the gap between energy policies and current projects. It sometimes acts as an initiator, sometimes as a consultant and sometimes as a project manager. In the last three years, it has managed a number of projects involving the use of renewable energy sources in various areas of activity, such as private households and the service sector. One such project was an energy-saving scheme in 75 primary schools and involved devising a course teaching basic rules of conduct.

Other important activities have been the provision of energy advice and soliciting grants for the community centre and ice rink. In addition, a campaign has been prepared to encourage people to use renewable energy sources, especially solar panels. In October 2001, a major energy-saving campaign aimed at the approximately 10,000 households in Zoetermeer was launched, and 228 low-energy terraced houses and 55 zero-energy houses have been built on two new housing estates.