Rhein on Energy and Climate

Munich, the third biggest German city with a population of one million people, has announced its intention to make its electricity supply “green” by 2025. This will happen in two stages. As early as 2015, all private households will be provided with electricity from water, biomass, solar and wind, and by 2025 the city also intends to supply the much bigger power demand from industry and offices by green sources.

To that end, the municipal electricity provider, which is fully owned by the city, will invest € 500 annually in local green power generation, participate in a thermal-solar power plant in Spain and take a stake in a North Sea wind park. The aim is become independent of the powerful utilities (EON, RWE, EDF etc.) that presently dominate the European electricity market, while living up to increasingly stricter climate targets in the future.

With a lot of sun-shine and access to nearby hydro-power Munich should be able to implement what appears as an ambitious programme.

The municipality will also rely increasingly on the purchase of green electricity from private households, thanks to the expansion of heavily subsidised PV installations. Households will thus indirectly take a stake in the profitability of the municipal electricity provider.

Munich is only the most advanced city, thanks to its green-red municipal council and a very active mayor. Cities like Hamburg, Düsseldorf, Kassel, Augsburg and Freiburg are also eager to follow the example.

The spreading of municipal power generation in Europe seems part of a wider long-term trend, which is due to three main factors:

The growing competitiveness of PV generated electricity, due to dramatically falling prices for PV modules and the quasi-absence of transmission costs;

The desire of many municipalities to be less dependent on the big European utility companies like EON, RWE or EDF;

The fact that “Green” is becoming increasingly accepted by European citizens and business;

It would therefore be timely for the “Energie-cités”, the association of European cities trying to implement the 3×20 percent EU climate targets, to devote one of its future symposiums to decentralised green electricity generation.

Brussels, 15.09 09 Eberhard Rhein

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