Municipal energy-planning and development of local energy-systems

Municipal energy-planning and development of local energy-systems

Applied Energy 76 (2003) 179–187 Municipal energy-planning and development of local energy-systems J. Stenlund Nilss...

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Applied Energy 76 (2003) 179–187

Municipal energy-planning and development of local energy-systems J. Stenlund Nilsson*, A. Ma˚rtensson Environmental Technique and Management, IFM, Linko¨ping University SE-581 83 Linko¨ping, Sweden Accepted 18 November 2002

Abstract Over the past three decades, Swedish energy policy has evolved in three major stages—oil reduction, phase-out of nuclear energy, renewable energy—each with a different focus. Since 1977, Swedish law has required municipalities to develop an energy plan that addresses the supply, distribution, and use of energy. Whether such plans have contributed to the development of local energy-systems has been a subject for debate. This paper is based on a study of 12 municipal energy-plans that attempted to control and develop local energy-systems in southern Sweden. The analysis examines how municipalities promote oil reduction, efficient energy use, and the use of renewable energy. The plans varied in planning processes, contents, and level of ambition. The results of the study show that the contents of the plans follow the national energy-policies with respect to reduction of oil use, improved energy efficiency, and increased use of renewable energy. # 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. Keywords: Energy-planning; National energy; Municipal energy; Environmental impact; Strategies

1. Introduction Traditionally, the municipalities have played an important role in the Swedish energy system, both as the local energy-distributor and as owners of large numbers of public buildings. The municipality also plays an important role in providing information and advice on energy-related topics. Although the local authorities are dependent on Swedish law, much of the responsibilities for the development of the municipal energy system lie on the municipal government. One of the means for the * Corresponding author. Tel.: +46-13-28-27-54; fax: +46-13-12-25-87. E-mail address: [email protected] (J. Stenlund Nilsson). 0306-2619/03/$ - see front matter # 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/S0306-2619(03)00062-X


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municipal government to manage the municipal energy-system is the municipal energy-plan. 1.1. Swedish energy-policy and municipal energy-planning In Sweden, municipal energy-planning has been a part of the energy policy for more than three decades. In 1977, the Swedish government passed a law that required municipalities to develop energy plans [1]. The law addressed secure supply and distribution of energy but was not compulsory. This meant that the municipalities were encouraged, rather than required, to develop an energy plan [2]. The requirements in the law were also vaguely stated and therefore led to uncertainty on what obligations the municipalities had for municipal energy-planning [3]. After the introduction of the law on municipal energy-planning, Swedish energy policy has gone through three major stages that have influenced the municipal energy systems (Table 1). After the oil crisis of 1979, a requirement for a complementary municipal oil-reduction plan was imposed on the municipalities [4]. The law particularly addressed the conversion of local energy-systems from oil-based systems to alternative energy sources and more efficient energy technologies. The role of the users as an important part of the energy system was also acknowledged. Municipalities were now required to plan for oil reduction as well as for the supply, the distribution and the use of energy. Nuclear-power plants were seen as an effective and important replacement for fossil fuels. The new nuclear-power plants also offered the potential for the increased use of cheap energy. In the mid-1980s, the Swedish government proposed a new bill [5] that attempted to minimize oil dependency and that removed the requirement for a separate oilreduction plan. The preparation for the phase-out of nuclear power also played an important role in this legislation. The goal was still the rational use of alternative energy resources, but the alternatives were specified as lasting, renewable energy sources. Another goal in this bill was to clarify that the planning was a tool for the municipality and not the state, and to encourage the integration of energy-planning into the municipalities’ comprehensive planning process.

Table 1 Goals for Swedish energy policies 1977–1999 1977–1984



Oil reduction Alternative energy sources: Solar power Heat pumps Hydropower

Phase-out of nuclear power Lasting, renewable energy sources Integration of energy-planning Rational use of energy

Climate issue Combined district-heating and electricity production Subsidies for renewable energy sources

Nuclear power; increased electricity use Efficiency in buildings

Closing of the nuclear reactor

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In 1997, the government proposed yet another energy bill that reflected a new energy policy. The objectives were clear: the Swedish energy system was to be based on the effective energy use and supply with low impacts on health, the environment, and the climate [6]. This included the phase-out of nuclear energy. The first step for the phase-out was the closing of an initial reactor at the Barseba¨ck Nuclear Plant. The closing of the reactor would be compensated by reduced use of electricity and increased use of renewable energy-sources through the use of district-heating systems. Subsidies were established for the development of local district-heating systems and for the development of wind power. Priority was given to research programs that addressed the minimization of the cost of renewable energy in order to make them competitive with nuclear energy and fossil fuels. Over the past three decades, laws that address municipal energy-planning have been debated, mainly because of the lack of a clear direction and sanctions. In spite of the requirement on municipalities to keep plans up-to-date, many have chosen not to prioritize energy-planning [2]. The law has also been criticized in view of the fact that other circumstances influence the decision-making in municipalities more than an energy plan [3]. For example, the national energy-policy regarding subsidies or taxes can dramatically change the conditions for a municipality [7]. However, far from all are critical of municipal energy-planning. For example, the value of energyplanning in connection with waste management or expansion of district heating has been emphasized [8]. 1.2. Objectives of the study The research project Strategic Environmental-Assessment of Local Energy-Systems is a part of a national research program, financed by the Swedish Energy Authority Board. The project is being conducted at the Department of Environmental Technique and Management, Linko¨ping University and the research is focused on municipal energy plans as tools for controlling the development of local energysystems. An introductory study analyzed 12 municipal energy plans in O¨stergo¨tland County in southern Sweden. Different municipalities, with a variety of energy systems were analyzed. The county includes relatively large municipalities with large industries, widespread agriculture, and advanced centralized energy-systems. Smaller municipalities in the county base their economies on agriculture and forestry or large industries (Table 2). Energy plans have been analyzed using a number of questions to categorize the contents. This paper is based on four of these categories. The first category, ‘The Planning Process’, deals with when the plans are written and by whom. This category also includes how energy-planning relates to the comprehensive planning process in the municipalities. The second category, ‘Energy System Characteristics’, analyzes the status of the energy system as it is presented in the plan. Here some indications on how the municipal energy systems have evolved over time can be seen. The third category, ‘Goals for the Energy Sector’, studies the municipalities’ future energy system plans. The fourth category, ‘Measures for Directing the Local Energy System’, studies how different political measures are handled in the plans.


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Table 2 Main industries in the studied municipalities [Public service (schools, hospitals, etc.) excluded] Municipality


Main industry

Boxholm Finspa˚ng Kinda Linko¨ping Mjo¨lby Motala Norrko¨ping So¨derko¨ping Vadstena Valdemarsvik Ydre A˚tvidaberg O¨desho¨g

6000 22,000 10,000 133,000 25,000 42,000 122,000 14,000 8000 9000 4000 12,000 6000

Steel and wood industry Manufacturing industry Manufacturing industry, agriculture Manufacturing and high-tech industry, agriculture Manufacturing, food, and steel industry Manufacturing industry Manufacturing Industry, paper mills Manufacturing and building industry, agriculture Manufacturing industry, agriculture Manufacturing industry, agriculture Manufacturing industry, agriculture Manufacturing industry Manufacturing and building industry, agriculture

Important in this category is how the municipality will work to promote energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy in the private and the public sector. Thus, this paper is based solely on the analysis of the energy plans. In a second study, a comparison will be made between the goals and policy measures proposed in the plans and the actual development of the local energy-systems.

2. Results 2.1. The planning process The status of energy plans varies widely between the municipalities. In one case, no plan has been issued at all. In other municipalities, the plan has been regularly updated and revised. The planning processes have also differed. In some municipalities, civil servants have handled the planning process. In others, external consultants have been responsible for the energy plan. Table 3 summarizes the origins and when the plans have been adopted. The contents of the plans are also largely different because the plans are written at different times and therefore are based on different national energy-policies. The level of ambition the municipalities demonstrate in their plans also varies. In some municipalities, in particular the larger ones, the plans contain scenarios and analyses of environmental impacts. In some others, the plans have more of a descriptive character. For example, municipalities are able to optimize the location of a new residential area with respect to solar or wind conditions. Municipalities can also decide on standards for energy efficiency in buildings or the nature of the heating system in the area. The relationship between the energy plans and spatial planning in municipalities has varied and has, in fact, been more detailed in the older plans. In three of the older plans, it is stated that energy-planning should not be viewed as isolated

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Table 3 Origin and year of adoption of energy plans in O¨stergo¨tland Municipality Boxholm Kinda Finspa˚ng Ydre A˚tvidaberg Linko¨ping Motala So¨derko¨ping Norrko¨ping Mjo¨lby O¨desho¨g Valdemarsvik Vadstena a b c d e f g h


Adoption year a

Work group Consultantb Work groupa Consultantc Consultantd Not indicated Consultante Consultantc Work groupf Work groupg Consultanth Civil servants No plan

1979 1980 1982 1986 1986 1991 1991 1992 1995 1998 1998 1998 –

Representatives from the municipal government, local industries, and the local power supplier. Scandiaconsult AB, Linko¨ping. Miljo¨invest AB and Energigruppen Nilseric Eng, J&W Fastigheter, Norrko¨ping. VBB AB, Linko¨ping. VBB VIAK AB, Malmo¨. Local civil-servants and politicians. Representatives unknown. Tellus Ekoteknik AB, Linko¨ping.

from other municipal planning. In one plan, the passive use of solar energy for heating buildings is mentioned. This municipality recommends that this aspect should be taken into account during spatial planning of new residential areas. In the plans from the 1990s, the connection to other planning is only mentioned briefly and often in connection with power-plant projects or other new constructions. In one plan, the local Agenda 21 efforts are mentioned as a part of the municipality’s energy-agenda, while another municipality takes an opposite approach: the energy plan has been issued as a part of the local Agenda 21 efforts. 2.2. The status of the energy system It seems that the review of the present status of municipal energy systems has been taken most seriously by planners. Almost all plans contain information about the present types of fuels used for buildings (public and private) and for industry. In the newer plans, the fuels used for district-heating systems are described. The heating systems of buildings have evolved with the national energy-policies, but a difference between public and private buildings can also be seen. In the older plans from the 1980s, energy-systems based on fossil fuels and electricity are dominant for both public and private buildings. The use of biomass fuels for heating small buildings, such as single-family homes, is also common. In the plans from the early 1990s, heating systems based on electricity are very common, especially in private buildings. Many homeowners converted their heating systems from oil to


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electricity during the 1980s. In spite of this, there are newer plans that include large amounts of fossil fuels being used for heating buildings. Even so, the plans indicate that the use of biomass in district-heating systems has increased and is increasing. Subsidies have encouraged investments in biomass plants used for heating on both large and small scales. A couple of plans from smaller municipalities present small-scale local-heating systems based on biomass. Industrial use of energy is a large part of some municipalities’ energy use. Municipal governments have limited means to control industrial energy use. The plans do not contain detailed information on the types of fuels used in the industrial sector. However, in general, the same trends are seen for heating buildings: large amounts of fossil fuels were used in the 1980s and in the 1990s renewable energy began to be used. However, one exception can be seen: the paper mills in Norrko¨ping have used a large share of their own residual products to heat and produce electricity. Electricity production has not been a priority in municipal energy-plans. Only half of the plans have a section dealing with local electricity production. In these plans, the same trend can be seen: in general, hydropower is the focus in the older plans and wind power in the newer plans. 2.3. Goals for the energy sector The municipalities commented on the current national energy-goals, but only one has analyzed how the goals affect the local level and how the goals can be implemented. However, all the municipal energy-plans contain some goals for the local energy sector. For heating systems, the goals differ based on their time of origin. The older plans primarily contain goals on oil reduction and energy efficiency in buildings. Optimism and new technologies, such as heat pumps and solar power, are also discussed in these older plans. The plans from the between years contain both the former goals and goals for district-heating systems and reduced emissions. In the newer plans, all the goals mentioned above remain, but expressions like ‘optimization’, ‘sustainable development’, and ‘renewable energy’ are the focus. It appears that the goals are quite vague. Even so, the intentions of the plans are clear regardless of the time they were written, the objective is greater energy-efficiency, reduced oil use, and increased renewable energy sources. Half of the plans describe the use of renewable energy for local electricity production. These are mostly the newer plans, but two of the older plans discuss renewable energy for the production of electricity. Here it can be seen that the older plans focus on hydropower whereas the newer plans focus on wind power. The possibility of using biomass in a combined plant for heat and electricity production is discussed in one plan. 2.4. Measures for directing the local energy system Municipal governments can take several measures to steer energy systems in the desirable direction. Advisory fees, local subsidies, and spatial planning are some examples. Most of the municipalities have made plans for a municipal energy

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advisor. About half of the municipalities appoint their own civil servants as advisors, two have given the responsibility to the local energy-supplier, i.e. the energy company owned by the municipality, and one plans to hire a consultant. The planned role of the energy advisor has varied over time. In the older plans, the role is advising on energy in general and energy saving. In the more recent plans, the role has been expanded to include energy-related environmental issues and financial advice. The energy advisor role seems to have evolved more to inform homeowners about subsidies and taxes, but providing technical advice on energy savings is still important. Except for the specific energy advisor, there is not much written about how to provide citizens with energy advice. Only one municipality concludes that the municipality has an important role in providing good examples when using renewable energy or energy-efficient equipment in municipally-owned buildings.

3. Discussion Planning has played very different roles in the municipalities and the plans vary greatly. One example is the role of energy-planning in the municipalities’ comprehensive planning-processes; this has not been a prioritized subject in the plans. Another example is that some municipalities have revised and updated their plan on a regular basis, others have plans that are more than 20 years old. Does this study indicate that in some municipalities the energy system is not on the agenda? This is unlikely, because today energy is a part of many municipal responsibilities, such as local Agenda 21 efforts, physical planning, or even waste-management planning. In these areas, energy-planning may be integrated in the municipalities’ general planning process just as the objectives in the energy bill of the mid-1980s. The focus of the municipal energy plans has been to describe the energy systems. From these descriptions, the three eras of Swedish energy policy can be observed. The main objectives of ‘Oil Reduction’, ‘Reduction of Electricity Use’ and ‘Renewable Energy’ are themes seen in the plans from each of these periods. Some key topics from each period are listed in Table 4. There are newer plans that indicate large amounts of fossil fuels being used for heating buildings even in the late 1990s. This is surprising because the oil-reduction policy is more than 30 years old. This could be because fossil fuels are still cheap and the district-heating systems are designed for such fuels. A conversion to renewable fuels would involve a major investment. When comparing older and more recent energy plans, a shift of focus in energy systems can be observed. The system boundaries have widened. In the older plans, efficiency in buildings plays a central role. In the newer plans, efficiency in the whole municipal energy-system is considered. The goals stated in the plans are vague. This can be explained by the uncertainties regarding the local energy-system mentioned above. Maybe it is understandable that the municipal planners express vague goals, as this means that the plan need not be revised every time the national policy changes. Policy measures, such as subsidies, are often not described extensively in the plans. The reason for this may be the same as above. If the municipality wants a sustainable


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Table 4 Main objectives for national energy-policies and key words for the energy plans from different eras 1977–1984 Main objective of Oil reduction energy policy Key words for the plans Nuclear power representing the era Local heating systems Efficiency in buildings Alternative energy technologies, e.g. heat pumps



Reduction of energy use

Renewable energy sources System optimization


District heating The Agenda 21 Reduction of fossil fuels Wind power Phase-out of nuclear power Biomass

Reduction of emissions

Sustainable development

energy system, then it may not be a good idea to base it on subsidized fuels. Furthermore, the municipalities have not mentioned their own ability to steer local energysystems with political measures. This phenomenon is harder to explain. One reason could be that the planners want the plan to be usable even if municipal governments change and new policies are implemented.

4. Conclusions The status of the energy systems, described in the plans, shows that the municipal energy-systems have evolved with the Swedish national energy-policy for the past three decades. Oil dependency has decreased during the period, use of electricity for heating purposes increased during the 1980s, and renewable energy has increased steadily. The goals for the municipal energy-systems show that the objectives have been increased use of renewable energy-sources and improved energy-efficiency. However, the goals are quite vague and leave room for new energy policies. During the three decades with required energy-planning, the system boundaries have widened. In the 1980s, the focus was on energy efficiency in buildings and on local heating plans. During the late 1990s, energy system efficiency and district heating were the focus.

Acknowledgements Financial support by the Swedish Energy Authority Board is gratefully acknowledged. We also thank Sara Bruhn-Tysk and Mats Eklund for ideas and advice. References [1] SFS (Swedish Statute Book). Lag om kommunal energiplanering (Municipal Energy-planning Act). Stockholm, Sweden; 1977; p. 439. [2] Statens energiverk (Swedish National Energy Agency). Kommunernas energiplanering, en uppfo¨ljning

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