Efficient, renewable, future-proof: Berlin’s Sustainable Energy Action Plan

Dutch National Network

Interview with Klara Furth-Deutschländer, Head of Climate Protection Unit, Senate of Berlin.

Over a year ago, on 5 April 2011, the administration adopted its Sustainable Energy Action Plan (SEAP), which is based on Berlin's "Energy Concept 2020." To take stock of this milestone, the Covenant of Mayors Office has interviewed Covenant Team Leader Ms. Klara Furth-Deutschländer. With an ambitious 40% CO2 reduction target, the city's SEAP outlines a set of wide-ranging measures spanning the trade, commerce, industry, manufacturing, transport and building sectors.

The Berlin city council is among the signatories having submitted their Sustainable Energy Action Plans. Could you give us a brief overview of this plan and some of its key features and targets?

Our SEAP is based on the Berlin Energy Concept 2020. Under the heading "Efficient – Renewable - Future-proof" the Berlin Energy Concept 2020 sets up a policy framework for a long-term energy, environmental and climate protection policy. Based on energy production and consumption data from 2005, the concept describes a development path for the reduction of carbon dioxide by 40% compared to 1990 levels. To comply with this target scenario, local policies will promote additional energy efficiency measurements and the use of renewable energies in Berlin.

From 1990 to 2005 a steady reduction in CO2 emissions from 29.3 to 21.9 million tonnes per year (t/a) has already been achieved (- 25.3 %). For the implementation of the - 40 % target until 2020, a further decline in CO2 emissions of 4.3 million t/a is required. In all sectors, final energy consumption will thus have to drop by 10 % by 2020. Public and private services, trade, commerce, industry, manufacturing and transport will have to take up scores of energy efficiency measures to limit electricity and heat consumption. The most important task in the residential sector is to increase the annual modernization rate from the current level of 0.7 % to around 2 % in existing buildings.

Likewise, the share of renewable energies in electricity production is expected to increase in the coming years from 1.2 % (2005) to 17.8 % (2020). There will also be significant CO2 savings through fuel switching from coal and fuel oil to natural and bio - gas production as well as extension of decentralized combined heat and power (CHP) systems.

Cooperation with the private sector is one of the key success factors of the Covenant of Mayors. In light of this, could you describe Berlin's NetzwerkE project and other such schemes aimed at enhancing the cooperation with private companies and utilities?

The Berlin NetzwerkE is a cooperation project with two private sector energy utilities (GASAG and Vattenfall), technology enterprises, large-scale users of energy and scientific institutions, which altogether comprises 15 partners so far. The network, managed by the Berliner Energieagentur (Berlin Energy Agency), aims to stimulate investment in energy efficiency technologies and identify future projects among partners in order to lower Berlin's energy consumption levels. The network has run a series of pilot projects including a study on internal wastewater heat recovery in buildings and the installation of a gas-fired heat pump in the "Stadtbad Mitte" swimming pool.

Another approach for the cooperation with private companies and associations are voluntary pledges taken through the signing of agreements, an important instrument to reach our climate protection goals. An ever-greater number of companies recognise their social responsibility and become involved in climate mitigation. Berlin wants to turn these companies and associations into active partners. Each agreement refers to CO2-saving objectives based on concrete energy measures. These climate protection pledges are then monitored. Since 2006, 14 agreements have been concluded with partners from all sectors.

Such key partners notably include the energy industry, the hospital operator and the federation of housing associations, which represents about 40 % of Berlin's flats. In the framework of the first climate protection agreement signed by the association, CO2 emissions from the communal housing stock have been reduced by up to 91,000 tonnes. A cap of CO2 emissions per dwelling was also agreed within this context.

Did your administration already collect results of some key sustainable energy actions carried out within the city? How did these actions benefit the citizens and local community?

Since 1990, Berlin has operated a consistent policy on climate change. For the use of renewable energies, a specific Solar Registry has been developed so that the distribution of solar energy is graphically visible for each district. Under the German Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG), energy service providers are also required to record the performance of the photovoltaic systems. Currently the statistics report an installed capacity of 40 MW in Berlin. In order to show the potential of solar energy use in Berlin, the city has prepared its Solar Outline Plan. According to this, up to 12 % of heat and up to 9 % of electricity could be derived from the sun.

The spatial and technical considerations outlined in the plan can then be taken into account during the land use planning process. The Solar Atlas on the internet shows the potential for installing solar energy plants. To prepare this instrument all the approximately 500,000 roofs in the city were laser-measured from an aircraft. Possible electricity generation, CO2 savings, investment costs and pay off are displayed in a single overview. By means of the Solar Roof Exchange programme, private investors can obtain public roof areas for installing and operating photovoltaic systems. During the past years, the initiative allowed to reach an installed energy capacity of 4 MW.