Featured Policy

100% Renewable Energy in Urban Areas, Frankfurt, Germany 2012 Accelerate the Transition to 100% Renewable Energies

In addition to being a global financial centre, the city of Frankfurt in Germany has positioned itself as a leader in sustainability and climate protection for several decades. In 1985, it founded one of the first municipal energy and climate protection agencies, which has worked extensively on promoting energy efficiency in its buildings and the adoption of combined heat and power systems. Frankfurt’s 100% renewable energy (RE) target is closely connected to its climate strategy featuring mutually reinforcing components and policy objectives, with a target date of 2050. Furthermore, the national policy framework, mainly the feed-in tariff policy, has triggered and supported action at the regional and local levels.

At a Glance

In 2008, the Frankfurt City Council agreed to implement a set of 50 energy saving and climate protection measures 1. The current Master Plan includes a dynamic array of projects and initiatives designed both to reduce emissions and to increase the adoption of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. Together, it is these various initiatives that will help Frankfurt reach its ambitious 100% RE target.
In addition, both the federal and state-level governments have provided funds to help support Frankfurt’s 100% strategy, demonstrating the important role that supportive frameworks at the national and regional levels can play. The city’s energy agency is in the process of elaborating on its Master Plan for its target date of 2050, a strategy whose implementation will involve architects, engineers, consultants, local businesses, public buildings such as schools and hospitals, as well as local residents.


Policy Reference

Connected Policies

Frankfurt’s 100% renewable energy target is closely connected to its climate strategy; it features mutually reinforcing components and policy objectives 2. Furthermore, the national policy framework, mainly the feed-in tariff policy, triggered and supported action at the regional and local levels.

The 100% RE target is strictly connected to a comprehensive set of energy efficiency and energy saving policies and initiatives, which are being implemented in Frankfurt . In fact, a 100% RE target is only possible if considerable reductions in energy use are achieved. Among a variety of other measures, a recent policy implemented in Frankfurt 3 rewards electricity saving with a cash bonus. People who reduce their electricity consumption by at least 10 per cent within a year receive a bonus of €20 from the city plus 10 cents for every additional kilowatt hour saved 4.


Selection as a Future-Just Policy

An ambitious 100% RE target for 2050 is not only about transforming our energy supply but also about a more holistic vision of a better future. A transition towards a fully renewable energy powered society offers several other benefits such as reduction in air, water and land pollution, health benefits, improved energy security and resilience, sustainable economic growth, employment, as well as social and human development. The 100% strategy adopts a regional approach that aims at harvesting local and regional resources. Instead of spending money for importing energy, the region invests in the local economy. By supporting local projects, the city and the region will become more independent from energy imports and will harness the regional resources, ultimately protecting the long term prosperity of the regional economy and its communities. Frankfurt’s Master Plan includes a dynamic array of projects and initiatives designed both to reduce emissions and to increase the adoption of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. The combination of these initiatives will help Frankfurt reach its ambitious 100% RE target, which is closely connected to its climate strategy, mutually reinforcing their policy objectives. Furthermore, Frankfurt’s Master Plan aligns with the global Sustainable Development Goals, and fundamental overarching goals to eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable development. In particular to SDG 7 Affordable and Clean Energy, SDG 8 Decent Work and Economic Growth SDG 9 Industry Innovation and Infrastructure and SDG 13 Climate Action.


Future-Just Policy Scorecard

Our “Best Policies” are those that meet the Future Just Lawmaking Principles and recognise the interconnected challenges we face today. The goal of principled policy work is to ensure that important universal standards of sustainability and equity, human rights and freedoms, and respect for the environment are taken into account. It also helps to increase policy coherence between different sectors.

   Sustainable use of natural resources

Frankfurt’s 100% RE target is closely connected to its climate strategy and as such has the shift towards sustainable use of natural resources as one of its core goals. At the same time, Frankfurt is a relatively dense urban area and city representatives as well as local experts determined that in order to supply 100% of its energy needs from renewable energy sources, Frankfurt would need to rely on neighbouring communities and the surrounding rural area in order to reach its target. This means that Frankfurt itself is only partially (25%) involved in the shift towards sustainable use of resources and engages surrounding communities for the rest. In summary, a transition towards 100% renewable energy means substituting the unsustainable use of finite fossil-fuel resources with local, clean, incessantly available renewable sources. This is a fundamental aspect of a transition towards the 100% RE target and a key aspect to highlight in relation to the long-term sustainable use of natural resources necessary for any policy to be future just.


   Equity and poverty eradication

The city of Frankfurt has a strong track record to build on: between 1990 and 2012, the city managed to reduce its emissions by 15% while the economy grew by over 50% 5. A core element of Frankfurt’s Master Plan is that it is approaching the 100% strategy in both a top-down and a bottom-up way, involving local citizens and businesses in achieving its objectives, while establishing a clear vision in its city wide Master Plan. In addition, both the federal and state-level governments have provided funds to help support Frankfurt’s 100% strategy, demonstrating the important role that supportive frameworks at the national and regional levels can play. Furthermore, the city of Frankfurt has also implemented a programme for low income housing 6 which supports access to affordable housing for low income families combined with an energy efficiency programme, reducing energy costs for users.


   Precautionary approach

The current Master Plan includes a dynamic array of projects and initiatives designed both to reduce emissions and to increase the adoption of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. It reduces the threat of irreversible harm by minimizing the use of natural resources and reducing emissions, and in so doing, respects human well-being and the protection of the environment.


   Public participation, access to information and justice

The city’s energy agency is in the process of elaborating on its Master Plan, a strategy where implementation will involve architects, engineers, consultants, local businesses, public buildings such as schools and hospitals, as well as local residents. Frankfurt’s strategy is designed to be participatory, and to involve as many actors as possible in its realisation. This is an important aspect of its success, and a valuable example to other jurisdictions seeking to implement a 100% strategy. In order to maintain the momentum in the decades ahead, the authorities aim to also increase awareness within local schools through a range of onsite projects in schools across the city, which will help create a wider consciousness among the city’s young people.


    Good governance and human security

Frankfurt’s city staff overcame many barriers, such as the perceived incompatibility of energy efficiency and Frankfurt’s building stock, by gradually moving forward, engaging stakeholders, and by clearly communicating the results and the impacts to the wider population. Pilot projects helped to build awareness, and over time, these individual projects began to generate more than simply electricity and heat: they began to generate momentum. In that way, Frankfurt’s Master Plan aligns with the principle of Good Governance and Human Security by safely increasing their use of renewable energy whilst taking into consideration people’s livelihoods.

Further, the 100% strategy for Frankfurt is based on a comprehensive plan envisioning strong alliances and partnerships between different stakeholders and between the city of Frankfurt and its surrounding municipalities and communities. Bodies such as the municipal energy agency 7 were created with the aim of promoting renewable energy by ensuring good governance, appropriate institutionalisations of functions and tasks, broad stakeholder engagement and cross-regional co-operation.


   Integration and interrelationship

Frankfurt’s Master Plan provides an integrated approach in that it includes an array of projects and initiatives designed both to reduce emissions and to increase the adoption of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. In 2008, Frankfurt City Council agreed to implement a set of 50 energy saving and climate protection measures. In addition, Frankfurt is working on the strategy’s implementation with architects, engineers, consultants, local businesses, public buildings such as schools and hospitals, local residents, as well as increasing climate awareness in local schools, so as to ensure that the strategy will yield a beneficial development for all involved.


   Common but differentiated responsibilities

Since 1990, when Frankfurt began to implement its climate and energy strategy, it has saved an estimated €100 million in energy costs, a number that is projected to continue increasing as energy efficiency and conservation efforts continue. Among the main beneficiaries of this are local residents and businesses, who now pay lower energy costs. Frankfurt demonstrates that an ambitious energy and climate strategy can provide significant cost savings to both governments and local residents. The fact that the local government can already point to such savings has been a powerful factor in maintaining momentum, and sustaining public and administrative support for the strategy.

Furthermore, responsibilities with regard to the energy transition are appropriately shared across departments and stakeholders. For example, the Frankfurt municipal energy agency supports the 100% strategy by managing the inputs and roles of the different partners and ensuring that responsibilities are shared and assigned across parties as appropriate 8.


Context

In addition to being a global financial centre, Frankfurt has positioned itself, for several decades, as a leader in sustainability and climate protection. In 1985, it founded one of the first municipal energy and climate protection agencies, which has worked extensively on promoting energy efficiency in local buildings and the adoption of combined heat and power systems. The city of Frankfurt has a strong track record to build on: between 1990 and 2012, the city reduced its emissions by 15% while the economy grew by over 50% 9. This success, combined with political leadership at the city level, has helped push Frankfurt’s strategy forward, making it a leading city within Germany in terms of adopting a holistic approach to energy and climate policy. In 2008, Frankfurt City Council agreed to implement a set of 50 energy saving and climate protection measures.
The current Master Plan includes a dynamic array of projects and initiatives designed both to reduce emissions and to increase the adoption of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies; it is these various initiatives that will help Frankfurt reach its ambitious 100% target. In addition, both the federal and state-level governments have provided funds to help support Frankfurt’s 100% strategy, demonstrating the important role that supportive frameworks at the national and regional levels can play.

Finally, Frankfurt benefits from a highly educated workforce, and a citizenry that broadly supports climate action and the continued expansion of energy efficiency and renewable energy.


Objectives

The current Master Plan includes a dynamic array of projects and initiatives designed both to reduce emissions and to increase the adoption of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. It envisions that approximately 25% will be supplied from energy generated within the city, 25% from outside the city, and total energy consumption will be decreased by 50%. Key elements of the strategy include increasing energy efficiency by 50%, expanding combined heat and power and increasing the role of solar (both thermal and PV), wind, and the use of local organic wastes for both heating and power generation.


Methods and Implementation

Due to the fact that Frankfurt is a relatively dense urban area, city representatives and local experts determined that in order to supply 100% of its energy needs from renewable energy sources, Frankfurt would need to rely on neighbouring communities and the surrounding rural area in order to reach its target. Currently, the Master Plan envisions that approximately 25% of the target will be met with supply from within the city, 25% from outside the city, and total energy consumption will be decreased by 50%, thereby making it possible to supply 100% of the city’s total energy needs from renewable energy sources.

There are a few key elements to Frankfurt’s 100% strategy 10:
– Increasing energy efficiency by 50%
– Expanding combined heat and power (CHP)
– Increasing the role of solar (both thermal and PV), wind, and the use of local organic wastes for both heating and power generation
– Increase integration across sectors (electricity, heating/cooling, transport) to improve reliability, efficiency and mitigate intermittency

In addition, there are a number of pilots underway, including the initiative to develop a Virtual Power Plant (VPP), which would be designed to integrate several small generators into an interconnected network capable of adjusting to fluctuations in RE output 11. A core element of Frankfurt’s approach is that it is approaching the 100% strategy in both a top-down as well as a bottom-up way, involving local citizens and businesses in achieving its objectives while establishing a clear vision in its city-wide Master Plan.

The city’s energy agency is, furthermore, in the process of elaborating on its Master Plan, a strategy whose implementation will involve architects, engineers, consultants, local businesses, public buildings such as schools and hospitals, as well as local residents.


Impact

There were many critics of the strategy at the beginning, many who argued that such a strategy was too ambitious, and would not succeed. Others were concerned that certain aspects, such as increasing energy efficiency, were incompatible with Frankfurt’s building stock, which is comprised of many old heritage buildings. Frankfurt’s city staff overcame many of these barriers by moving forward gradually, engaging stakeholders, and by clearly communicating the results and the impacts to the wider population.
In addition to that, as an indicator of its success, since 1990, when Frankfurt began to implement its climate and energy strategy, it has saved an estimated €100 million in energy costs, a number that is projected to continue increasing as energy efficiency and conservation efforts continue. Among the main beneficiaries of this are local residents and businesses, which now pay lower energy costs. Frankfurt demonstrates that an ambitious energy and climate strategy can provide significant cost savings to both governments and local residents. The fact that the local government can already point to specific cost savings has been a powerful factor in maintaining momentum, and sustaining public and administrative support for the strategy.


Potential as a Transferable Model

Frankfurt aims to implement its 100% strategy in parallel with a 100% carbon neutral strategy. Identifying and communicating a 100% RE target has a number of advantages: it can help engage a wide range of stakeholders; it can ensure a more efficient deployment of both technical and administrative resources, and reduce the risks of duplication and competing policy goals; it can help give key stakeholders (such as utilities, or private investors) the confidence required to make large investments, such as in transmission and distribution grids. By increasing investment certainty, setting ambitious targets can also help attract domestic and international investors, ultimately making it easier to achieve the target. Experiences from within the European Union and in many other jurisdictions around the world demonstrate that targets can also help build awareness, both among external audiences as well as among the citizens in the local area. This awareness can be essential to building public support among local citizens and businesses to help achieve the objective.

It is also important to highlight that there are different kinds of 100% RE targets, including targets for 100% renewable electricity, such as in Cape Verde; 100% targets for renewable energy in rural electrification, such as in Bangladesh; and finally, there are more comprehensive targets that aim to supply 100% of total energy needs with renewable energy sources, such as in Denmark. This variety of 100% RE targets provides a tremendous potential for knowledge sharing and collaboration, and for identifying transferable policy lessons that may be applicable in other contexts.

That said, it is important to highlight that target setting alone is not sufficient to ensure effective implementation. As shown by a number of unmet targets in several jurisdictions around the world, targets need to be credible, achievable and implementable. Targets are more likely to be achieved when they are supported by a stable policy and regulatory framework as well as by a clear, step-by-step roadmap with indicators and regular progress reports.


Additional Resources

Footnotes