Sneak preview of soon to be published key-barriers-to-energy-transition research

What does it tsneak-previewake to realize clean energy in cities? What barriers do we need to remove to make it happen? Last year the Amsterdam Centre for Energy (University of Amsterdam), DNV GL and La Metro examined which economic and regulatory barriers the various City-zen projects experience when trying to achieve a fossil free city. In September they will publish their insights. Eva Winters, researcher at the Amsterdam Centre for Energy, already shares some of the key barriers their team encountered:

1. Dysfunctional CO2 pricing system is holding back sustainable innovation

Pioneering in the middle of a transition often means having to be competitive in a market where there isn’t a level-playing-field yet. The energy transition is no exception to this. As the anticipated ‘polluter-pays’ principle, for example through the ETS system or CO2 taxes, isn’t functioning well yet, City-zen innovations have to compete with the existing, often lower-cost, fossil fuel alternatives. The current lack of an incentive for sustainability potentially leads to counterproductive decisions and slows down sustainable innovative projects.

2. Local governments: translate your ambitions into clear-cut policies please !

Many local governments have formulated ambitious climate goals such as being ‘fossil free by 2050’ or ‘free of natural gas by 2040’. However these ambitions have often not yet been translated in to clear-cut policies or plans, which leaves energy stakeholders in the dark on what’s next. This causes delays and sometimes even cancelling of innovative projects.

Local governments play an essential role within the energy transitions towards clean energy and must actively use their legal powers to create the right environment for sustainable innovations. This will contribute to investment certainty for all stakeholders involved.

3. Net zero energy ambition for existing building stock hard to reach when relying on citizen’s own initiative

By 2050 all buildings must be net zero energy buildings. On a European level strict rules have been formulated for all new-build, but there are hardly rules in place for existing buildings. Renovation of these homes and buildings, often rely on citizens’ own initiative. Governments try to seduce them in renovating their properties through special energy-saving loans, grants and the provision of simple renovation programs. In our research we have examined different financial models for both individual home-owners as well as models for the renovation of building blocks and districts that are currently being tested in Grenoble.

Many parties involved have, however, already concluded that the 2050 ambition will not be realized when governments continue to rely on voluntary renovations by citizens. France is therefore examining if it can use its legal powers to impose renovation obligations to private home-owners. The Netherlands will put rules in place for offices, but not yet for private home-owners. In our research we will explain the different Dutch and French financing models for renovation of existing buildings and analyze regulatory options.

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