By Jaroslav Klusak, City of Litoměřice
The city of Litoměřice has for a long time been a frontrunner in the Czech energy transition. A former port town not far from Prague, which has now become a commerce and service centre, the city of some 25,000 inhabitants began its energy transition in 2000 with a subsidy scheme for solar water heaters in private homes. 20 years later, Litoměřice is becoming a climate-friendly role model for the Czech Republic and the Central European region.
Its energy transition strategy consists of two strands: On one hand, implementing solar and geothermal projects to reduce dependency on coal, and on the other hand, reducing citizens’ and businesses’ overall energy consumption through careful municipal planning.
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Municipal planning, with all actors on board, is one of the most important preconditions for a successful energy transition. Litoměřice introduced its first municipal energy plan in 2013 and added a Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plan in 2018, with the goal of reducing carbon emissions by 27% by 2030 compared to the 2005 level. The aim is for renewable energy to account for 40-50% of energy generation, depending on the success of a geothermal heating project that is discussed below.
In order to oversee the implementation of the plan effectively, Litoměřice appointed an energy manager, which is not a very common position in the Czech Republic. The municipality is one of the three founding members of the Czech Association of Municipal Energy Managers, which supports cities with developing and implementing their strategic energy plans. Litoměřice is also part of several other projects and initiatives to promote a low-carbon energy approach, e.g. Energy Cities and the Covenant of Mayors.
An energy saving fund as innovative finance
In 2014, the municipality introduced an innovative funding tool: an energy saving fund that is directly reinvested into renewable energy projects. When a certain institution, for example the local high school, reduces its energy consumption, the money saved is added to the fund and reinvested in the same institution. The energy fund is thus independent of the municipal budget. This makes sure that the saved money stays in the region and benefits the residents, and thus incentivizes them to further reduce their energy consumption.
Renewable energy projects co-owned by citizens
Credit: Municipality of Litoměřice
Litoměřice does not only want to save energy but is also working on switching to renewable energy production. In 2018, a total area of 3,700 m² in the city was covered with solar panels, whose capacity was 1.3 Megawatt peak (MWp) on private houses and 0.15MWp on public buildings, which is expected to rise to 1.5 MWp soon. The project is implemented together with 250 households, who are co-owners of the panels. The households’ own energy demand is covered and the rest of the energy produced is used in public buildings.
Reforming the heating sector with geothermal energy
The largest single project planned by Litoměřice concerns geothermal heating. In order to explore the potential for geothermal energy, Czech geologists have drilled a 1.6 km deep borehole near the city, the deepest in all of central Europe. The project is led by the Research Infrastructure for Geothermal Energy (RINGEN), a research group based at Charles University in Prague. It is a long-term project that might take another 10-13 years to bear fruit, but if it works, Litoměřice’s entire grid will be connected to the geothermal heat supply, which is hoped will cover 70% of the city’s energy consumption. Although the grid is private, the municipality plans to operate the geothermal plant itself.
Finally, one sector that cannot be forgotten in the just transition is the residential sector, which is responsible for more than half of Litoměřice’s entire energy consumption. Two thirds of buildings in the city have the energy label D or E, which shows there is an enormous potential to increase their energy efficiency. The successful renovation of a few public buildings like the kindergarten has proved that point, since it made them 60-70% more energy efficient.
Credit: Municipality of Litoměřice
The first step towards large-scale refurbishment and renovation was to gather data, which was part of the sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plan and was completed in 2018. The city’s energy manager subsequently devised a plan to refurbish or equip with renewable energy technology 150 city-owned buildings. In order to develop a comprehensive strategy and learn how other cities motivate homeowners to carry out deep energy retrofits, Litoměřice has also joined the INNOVATE project.
Engaging citizens in the energy transition
Citizens are involved in the city’s Municipal Energy Days. Litoměřice also offers citizens energy consultancy and is preparing a campaign to promote community PV systems.
With the comprehensive action plan, a motivated energy manager and innovative projects in multiple sectors, Litoměřice is a pioneer in the Czech energy transition landscape.
About the author:
Jaroslav Klusák is energy manager at the City of Litoměřice, Czech Republic. He finished a PhD at the University of Economics, Prague, Department of Environmental Economics in 2006. Jaroslav has practical experience in the municipal energy since 2004, and regularly publishes articles in the energy and energy management field. He has worked in national and international projects such as MODEL, Sustainable local energy indicators, MARUEL, MAESTRO, READY 21, ProgRESsHEAT, POCACITO and others. Since 2011 he has worked as energy manager of the City of Litoměřice. He is a member of the Sustainable Energy Board of the Office of the Government of the Czech Republic and since 2018 is chairman of the Association of Local Energy Managers of the Czech Republic.
This blog article was co-created by Josephine Valeske and is part of the mPOWER blog series in which cities and towns share how they are building better energy futures.