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mPOWER will enable an in-depth, wide-scale and systematic peer-to-peer learning programme among at least 100 local public authorities, in order to replicate innovative best practices in municipal energy, and developing ambitious energy transition plans.
Some European cities, particularly in Germany, Denmark and France, have made innovations in the energy sector management, from running distribution networks, supply companies, and renewable generation, to facilitating citizen participation processes, to sourcing public/alternative finance for energy projects.
Other cities across Europe are exploring their options for municipal energy, and are looking to learn. mPOWER will map existing municipal energy policy and identify innovations, best practices, as well as obstacles and barriers.
We define ‘Municipal Energy’ as a category involving local public organisations and forms of ownership that have been established by towns and cities to deliver energy policies and solutions. These can include diverse and hybrid forms of non-private collective ownership (community, employee and cooperative), but always with some participation from municipal authorities.
The project will ignite municipal action that creates the energy transition to low carbon systems. Municipal action is defined as specific initiatives taken by local and city government actors to empower local players and create new forms of urban governance in the energy system in the pursuit of a low carbon transition (recognising that there may be other primary motives such as tackling fuel poverty or energy security).
These initiatives can include:
- setting up new municipal organisations (which includes both fully public sector local enterprises; hybrid organisations that combine municipal ownership/and citizen-based initiatives such as cooperatives and mutuals);
- facilitating civil society actors through use of public resources, funds and capacity;
- and other creative initiatives that create vehicles, mechanisms or institutions that empower local actors to both (a) address energy transition targets (including increasing renewables generation, increased energy efficiency, maintenance of grid stability, maintaining best value for customers) and (b) overcome blockages and constraints. With regard to the latter, we are also concerned to identify creative municipal actions that have overcome or successfully negotiated constraints or blockages at national and EU levels by other actors and institutions (e.g EU competition policy, nationally imposed cuts to local budgets or erosion of other local capacities).
Through mPOWER, participant authorities across Europe will (a) learn from replicable best practices; (b) recognise risks, obstacles and blockages; (c) identify and commit to replication pathways that best suit local needs; and (d) incubate at least 30 new and improved municipal energy policies and projects within the project duration. Lessons learnt will be disseminated publicly and through target networks in easily accessible formats for replication.
mPOWER is run by a consortium composed of the University of Glasgow (UK), Platform (UK), Transnational Institute (Netherlands), Energy Cities (EU-wide), IPE (Croatia), University of the Basque Country (ES), and Carbon Co-op (UK).
The mPOWER project and consortium are funded by the Horizon 2020 EU Research and Innovation programme and involves seven partner organizations. The project started in May 2018 and will last four years.