European Cities in the Energy Transition: A Preliminary Analysis of 27 Cities

Published On: March 30, 2020Categories: ArticlesTags: , , , , , ,

Academic publication by Estitxu Villamor, Ortzi Akizu-Gardoki, Olatz Azurza, Leire Urkidi, Alvaro Campos-Celador, Izaro Basurko, and Iñaki Barcena Hinojal of the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU)

It is estimated that cities are responsible for 70% of global CO2 emissions. Thus, they have a large responsibility to react to the climate crisis by adapting their energy systems. Where do European municipalities stand with regards to the energy transition? What are the difficulties they face? This study sets out to answer these questions by surveying 27 diverse cities―from Mizil, Romania to Barcelona, Spain―that participated in the mPower Exchange project. This study them draws conclusions, assessing what has to be done in order to enable a democratic energy transition.

One of the most important findings regards the difficulties that come along with the lack of information. In order to take informed decisions, municipalities need more data about the energy supply and consumption in their cities, but these data are often held by private companies. Only with sufficient knowledge can energy democracy thrive on a municipal level.

The existing data reveal a number of interesting facts. Firstly, there is still a very high dependency on fossil fuels in the surveyed cities, ranging from a 72 to a 98.4% share in the energy mix. Even those cities with a higher share of renewable energy still consume a lot of fossil fuel in absolute amounts because the consumption itself is very high. This shows that an energy transition should not just focus on replacing fossil fuels with renewables, but also on reducing energy consumption altogether.

The study makes compelling correlations, exploring whether cities with a higher budget for an energy transition and a larger staff are more successful. It also looks into the share of energy consumed in the residential sector and asks whether cities really need a lot of energy in order to have a high economic performance and a better living standard.

Download the full publication here: