After COP22, Morocco to implement 100% RE

Last Friday, 48 countries committed to “strive to meet 100% domestic renewable energy production as rapidly as possible while working to end energy poverty, protect water and food security, taking into consideration national circumstances”. These 48 countries are among the most vulnerable countries and are united as the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF). With their declaration, these countries prove unique leadership at the end of COP22, keeping up to their promise to take action. This is probably the most important outcome of the Climate Conference in Marrakesh.

In 2009, Morocco announced its goal to raise the share of renewable energies to 42% of its total installed capacity by 2020. And during the COP21, the government increased this to 52% by 2030: 20% using solar energy, 20% wind and 12% hydro.

Morocco, the host country of COP22, is one of them. Over the past months and years, the World Future Council has worked with several stakeholders in the country, developing a policy roadmap to transition to 100% Renewable Energy. With last week´s declaration, this roadmap can now serve as a guidance for the new government to go faster and further and walk the talk.

A quick look back

In 2009, Morocco announced its goal to raise the share of renewable energies to 42% of its total installed capacity by 2020. And during the COP21, the government increased this to 52% by 2030: 20 % using solar energy, 20 % wind and 12 % hydro. To reach this goal, the country will develop additional electricity production capacity between 2016 and 2030 of around 10,000MW in renewable energies of which 4,560MW solar, 4,200MW wind and 1,330MW hydro.

These targets are anchored in a three-pronged strategy developed by the government to liberalise and boost the renewable energy sector in Morocco:

  • Legal framework: Renewable Energy is subject of a diversified portfolio of solar, wind and hydro anchored in a legislative framework, notably Law nº 13-09, promulgated in 2010 to liberalise and develop the RE sector in Morocco.
  • Institutional building: the progressive liberalisation of the energy sector has been accompanied by the establishment of institutions to take up the challenges of the energy transition, amongst which: MASEN, ADEREE, SIE, IRESEN.
  • Subsidies reform: in 2013, the government of Morocco announced the reform of fossil fuel subsidies. Since 1st December 2015, the prices of fuels obey the free play of supply and demand. Only the price of butane continues to be subsidised.

cop2_infogr_enPolicy changes resulted in success

The remodelling of the legal, institutional and financial framework has noticeably helped achieved impressive results in the diversified portfolio of renewable energy projects taking place in Morocco. A well-known example is Noor Ouarzazate, the first solar mega-project launched by the Moroccan solar energy agency (MASEN), will reach a total capacity of 580MW by 2018 and will bring power to 1.1 million people (learn more about it here). Or the Tarfaya’s wind park, with a production potential of 1,084GWh/year, is already supplying 1.5 million households and has become Africa’s largest wind energy project. The park has contributed to the creation of new road installations and equipment, and it has become a source of additional income for local communities by means of the business tax, apart from the development of local skills and capacities relating to wind energy.

Indeed, in Morocco renewable energy is not only a very important factor for the environment and the production of goods and services, but a key development vector as the following figures show:

  • Wind projects can save $750 million and 5.6 million tons in emissions a year.
  • Solar projects will save $500 million and 3.7 million tons in emissions a year.
  • The 850MW wind energy project foresees a 70% industrial integration.
  • 13,300 jobs can be created by 2020.

And a closer look to Morocco’s wind and solar projects’ prices highlights the attractiveness of the country’s renewable energy plan. For instance, the country secured bid of Dh 0.72 (US$0.07 cents/Kwh) for the Tarfaya project and in 2016 set a new low for the Integrated Wind Project, securing a price of Dh 0.31 (US$ 0.03 cents/Kwh). This is well below the fuel fossils import price of 0.97 Dh (US$ 0.09 / Kwh) paid during the last ten years. Even for solar projects the price was also much lower than expected by MASEN, at Dh 1,5 (US$ 0.15 cents/KWh) for the first phase of the projects (NoorO I) and at Dh 1.4 (US$ 0.14 / KWh) for NoorO II and NoorO III.

Nevertheless, Morocco must go further and faster

If Morocco wants to solve the following challenges, it needs to go beyond current efforts:

  • Morocco will have to cope with a growing electricity demand that has been increasing at an annual rate of 6.6% in the last 10 years.
  • Climate change will increase its temperatures by 0.5- 1ºC by 2020 and by 1-1.5ºC by 2050 and 2080.
  • The country is currently dependent on fossil fuel. 95% of its consumption is imported, taking 10-12% of its GDP from the national budget.
  • Morocco has to capitalise its renewable energy potential: solar resources are equivalent to 20,000MW and wind potential to 25,000MW.

Because despite the avant-garde energy policy, a number of challenges remain in the way for unleashing Morocco’s incredible renewable energy potential. During round tables and interactive dialogues facilitated by the World Future Council, Moroccan policy-makers, experts and practitioners have identified numerous actions to set Morocco on a path to 100% Renewable Energy, foremost to prioritise renewable sources in the energy system and enable new actors to enter the market – both from a legislative as well as from a capacity perspective. This can only be achieved with a comprehensive approach (see infographic above).

The World Future Council congratulates Morocco for its leadership during COP22 and is committed to support the country in walking the talk.

To learn more about Morocco’s energy situation and potential pathways as well as to explore the proposed actions, read the following report:



A roadmap for 100% RE in Morocco

Morocco, COP22 host country, has since 2009 prioritised renewable energies and energy efficiency. Aware of the nature of the opportunities and stakes confronting its energy landscape, the nation has mobilised to share the message about the urgency and advisability of changing the pathway.

In order to address the complexity, challenges and opportunities of the energy challenge, the World Future Council organised a process of reflection for Moroccan actors playing a leading role in this transition: parliamentarians, political actors, academics and civil society. The round tables and conversations we organised between 2014 and 2016 are reflected in this report. We also highlight solutions for putting into place a coherent political framework which allows the materialisation of a 100% renewable energy Morocco.

48 most vulnerable countries lead the 100% Renewables movement

The energy revolution is happening. The World Future Council applauds the 48 most vulnerable countries who today adopted the strongest declaration for Climate Action to this day. The Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) – a coalition of 48 countries from Asia, Africa, Caribbean, the Pacific and South America – declared in Marrakesh that they “strive to meet 100% domestic renewable energy production as rapidly as possible while working to end energy poverty, protect water and food security, taking into consideration national circumstances”.

Cities, communities, citizens and islands have proven that the 100% RE vision is feasible and beneficial. Policy solutions are out there. The next step is an inclusive policy dialogue to a system change.

The Climate Conference in Marrakesh was announced by the Moroccan presidency as “a COP of Action”. And indeed, it is the most vulnerable countries of this planet who keep this promise, making the urgently needed step to go beyond current pathways.

Climate Vulnerable Former-Forum Chair, H.E. Dr. Gemedo Dalle, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change said that climate action and decarbonisation is set to boost CVF countries’ economies by creating jobs in the renewable energy sector. With this, developing countries lead the way from talking to action, showing that climate action does not limit development but it strengthens it. Ministers and heads of delegations of member countries convened today for the Forum’s 2016 High Level Meeting at the UN Climate Change Conference at Marrakesh (UNFCCC COP22). The Forum adopted the Marrakech Communique and the Marrakech Vision. The Communique called for greater ambition emphasising that any country with an NDC not yet compliant with its fair share consistent with the Paris Agreement’s long-term goal must update contributions by 2020 at the latest. It also called on honouring commitments, investing in climate finance and the need to transform market place.

“Today’s declaration of 48 national governments to go 100% Renewable Energy signals the urgently needed political leadership. Industrialised countries must follow this example to put the world on track for a just and sustainable energy system for all.” says Stefan Schurig, Director Climate Energy, World Future Council. “The good news is that cities, communities, citizens and islands have proven that the 100% RE vision is feasible and beneficial. Policy solutions are out there. The next step is an inclusive policy dialogue to a system change.”

The World Future Council has been working with several countries of the CVF, including Morocco and Tanzania in the past years in supporting their transition to 100% Renewable Energy.

“We are pioneering the transformation towards 100% renewable energy, but we want other countries to follow in our footsteps in order to evade catastrophic impacts we are experiencing through hurricanes, flooding and droughts.” H.E. Mr. Mattlan Zackhras, Hon. Minister in Assistance to the President of the Marshall Islands.

Dipal C. Barua, WFC Councilor from Bangladesh adds: “Bangladesh has shown how renewable energy tackles energy poverty. With today’s commitment to move to 100% Renewable Energy domestically, the government, in coalition with the most vulnerable countries, builds on this success and allows future generations a decent life on this planet.”

Doto Biteko, Chair for Parliamentary Committee on Energy and Minerals, Tanzania “With today’s declaration, Tanzania proves leadership in bringing electricity to all citizens. By visiting other countries, I have learnt in the past months that renewable energy can overcome poverty and improve people’s livelihoods. I therefore welcome Tanzania’s commitment to join the other most vulnerable countries in going to 100% Renewable Energy to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees.”

H.E. Mr. Mattlan Zackhras, Hon. Minister in Assistance to the President of the Marshall Islands said that this is a turning point in climate leadership and transformation that is bound to secure a safer future for vulnerable communities. Minister Zackhras added: “We are pioneering the transformation towards 100% renewable energy, but we want other countries to follow in our footsteps in order to evade catastrophic impacts we are experiencing through hurricanes, flooding and droughts.”

“We don’t know what countries are still waiting for to move towards net carbon neutrality and 100% renewable energy, all parties should start the transition, otherwise we will all suffer.” adds H.E. Mr. Edgar Gutierrez, Hon. Minister of Environment and Energy of Costa Rica, highlighting that meeting the 1.5C target requires an immediate sense of urgency from all parties.

International leaders incl. the UNFCCC Secretary General Patricia Espinosa, Former US Vice President Al Gore and European Union Climate Action and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete, welcome the CVF declaration.

“The announcement today by 48 national governments to use renewables to meet all their energy needs demonstrates true commitment to the 1.5 degree target. This commitment can only accelerate the developments we are already seeing both in the market and investment sectors. Renewables are unstoppable!”, says Laura Williamson from REN21.

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A Roadmap for 100% Renewable Energy in Morocco

The development and promotion of renewable energies have become central topics for Morocco, the host country of COP22.

In 2009, Morocco announced its goal to raise the share of renewable energies to 42% of its total installed capacity by 2020. And during the COP21, the government increased this to 52% by 2030.

Currently, renewable energies are the subject of a diversified portfolio for solar, wind and hydro anchored in a legislative framework, notably Law n. 13-09 on renewable energies to liberalise and develop the renewable energy sector in Morocco.

Morocco can go further and faster. Morocco still imports 95% of domestic consumption. The country faces a growing electricity demand increasing at an annual rate of 6.6% in the last ten years. And forecasts for Morocco see an increase in temperatures of 0.5 to 1°C by 2020 and 1 to 1.5°C by 2050 and 2080. Rainfall could decline by 30% between now and the end of the century.

The progressive liberalisation of the energy sector has been accompanied by the establishment of institutions to take up the challenges of the energy transition, amongst which: MASEN, ADEREE, SIE, IRESEN.

Further, in 2013, the government of Morocco announced the reform of fossil fuel subsidies, which cost 5% of its GDP. Since 1st December 2015, the prices of fuels obey the free play of supply and demand. Only the price of butane continues to be subsidised.

In this RE development, advantages are beginning to be shared by society as a whole. For example in NOOR Ouarzazate, the first project launched by the Moroccan solar energy agency (MASEN), covering 3,000 hectares with a total capacity of 580MW by 2018, Moroccan companies contributed « almost one-third of the value of the plant, supplying metallurgical, cabling, construction and public works components or services ». This generated 2,000 jobs of which 40% in the region.

Nevertheless, Morocco can go further and faster. Morocco still imports 95% of domestic consumption. The country faces a growing electricity demand increasing at an annual rate of 6.6% in the last ten years. And forecasts for Morocco see an increase in temperatures of 0.5 to 1°C by 2020 and 1 to 1.5°C by 2050 and 2080. Rainfall could decline by 30% between now and the end of the century.

Today, there remain a good number of political, economic, technical and cultural obstacles which stand in the way or slow down the transition towards a 100% renewable energy system. Moreover, the majority of actions are concentrated on the electricity sector, neglecting the heating and cooling as well as the transport sector.

To move towards a 100% renewable energy system offers the opportunity to change this reality. The challenge for the country is not so much a lack of energy resources but to fundamentally transform the way in which the energy system is structured.

Today, there remain a good number of political, economic, technical and cultural obstacles which stand in the way or slow down the transition towards a 100% renewable energy system. Moreover, the majority of actions are concentrated on the electricity sector, neglecting the heating and cooling as well as the transport sector.

In order to address the complexity, challenges and opportunities of the energy transition in Morocco, the World Future Council organised a process of reflection for Moroccan actors playing a leading role in this transition: parliamentarians, political actors, academics and civil society.

In this spirit, parliamentary hearings, conversations, and roundtables were organised between 2014 and 2016, guided by the following questions:

  • Morocco’s current energy context: challenges, renewable energies potential and energy strategy
  • Morocco’s leading renewable energy projects: main features, total installed power, production capacity, estimated cost, financing and entry into service dates.
  • Socio-economic benefits of renewable energies in Morocco: challenges being addressed up by renewable energy projects.
  • Guidelines for energy transitions: legislative, institutional and economic reforms.
  • Principal challenges for deployment of renewable energies in Morocco: political, economic, technical and cultural.
  • Recommendations to guarantee a successful energy transition for Morocco.

Overall, the goal has been the to identify the solutions for putting into place a coherent political framework which allows the materialisation of a 100% renewable energy Morocco.



A roadmap for 100% RE in Morocco

Morocco, COP22 host country, has since 2009 prioritised renewable energies and energy efficiency. Aware of the nature of the opportunities and stakes confronting its energy landscape, the nation has mobilised to share the message about the urgency and advisability of changing the pathway.

In order to address the complexity, challenges and opportunities of the energy challenge, the World Future Council organised a process of reflection for Moroccan actors playing a leading role in this transition: parliamentarians, political actors, academics and civil society. The round tables and conversations we organised between 2014 and 2016 are reflected in this report. We also highlight solutions for putting into place a coherent political framework which allows the materialisation of a 100% renewable energy Morocco.

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Energy Remunicipalisation: How Hamburg is buying back energy grids

On September 22 2013, 50.9% of the Hamburg citizens voted in a referendum for the full remunicipalisation of the energy distribution grids in the city. The referendum was initiated by the citizen’s initiative ‘Our Hamburg – Our Grid’ (OHOG) and constituted the climax of an intense political controversy that lasted for more than three years. Through this vote Hamburg has received international attention and became a flagship example for remarkable civil engagement. In the international best-seller “This Changes Everything” (2014), Naomi Klein sees the driving motive in the people’s ‘desire for local power’. Indeed it is true that under the constitution of the City of Hamburg, a successful referendum has a binding effect, which left the City government no other option than to announce the implementation of the referendum decision and to start the remunicipalisation process immediately after the vote. Now, three years after the referendum, it is time to evaluate what has been achieved so far. A series of interviews with key actors that were and, for the most part, still are involved in the remunicipalisation process shed some light on the remunicipalisation process and recent developments.

The Way towards the Referendum

„The first E-Mail came from you“, they say about Gilbert Siegler, who started the gathering of a broad spectrum of environmental, civil and church organisations back in 2010 that would later become the citizens’ initiative “Our Hamburg – Our Grid” (OHOG). For many of the activists, such as the leading campaigner of the initiative, Wiebke Hansen, the remunicipalisation question quickly became a “matter of the heart” and proxy to tackle climate change effectively by directly achieving access to the energy sector, putting the issue into the overall context of intergenerational justice.

Privatisation of the energy grids was a decision that according to the current Senator for Environment and Energy, Jens Kerstan, had soon been severely regretted by many members across all parties and led to a “loss in political influence and the possibility to steer” within the energy sector.

The momentum was opportune. The anti-nuclear movement had just achieved a great success, mobilising 120 000 people protesting against the plans of the Federal Government to prolong the runtime of the German nuclear power plants, with the formation of a 120km long human chain between the two nuclear power plants Brunsbüttel and Krümmel. The chain also queued through the inner City of Hamburg, this event and the upcoming expiry of the concession agreements provided a fertile ground for the activists in the city to merge into the initiative that would three years later achieve the great success of winning the referendum on the remunicipalisation of the energy distribution grid.

At the end of the 1990s and beginning of the 20th century, the City of Hamburg privatised its energy distribution grids of electricity, gas and district heating – a decision that according to the current Senator for Environment and Energy, Jens Kerstan, had soon been severely regretted by many members across all parties and led to a “loss in political influence and the possibility to steer” within the energy sector.

However, despite this realisation the Senate led by the Social Democratic Party (SPD) under First Mayor Olaf Schloz were merely willing to buy back a blocking minority of 25.1% from the private energy utilities E.ON and Vattenfall owning the energy distribution grids in 2011. While Olaf Scholz and the City Government believed that this deal would allow sufficient control over the private network operators, OHOG, energy experts and even SPD members were not convinced that 25.1% are enough to achieve a proactive and progressive energy policy for Hamburg, including a decisive implementation of the Energiewende and an active engagement in climate mitigation by shifting towards renewable energies.

Instead the citizens’ initiative’s referendum text stipulated a more ambitious goal, which is separated below into the two core targets:

 “The Hamburg Senate and City Parliament are undertaking all necessary and legitimate steps in a timely manner, in order to

  • fully remunicipalise the Hamburg electricity, district heating and gas distribution grid in 2015.
  • The mandatory target is a socially just, climate-friendly and democratically controlled energy supply from renewable sources.”

At the beginning, the citizens’ initiative received broad approval in their intention to bring the energy distribution grids back into the public hand. One reason of OHOG’s success certainly was its heterogeneous composition that reflected society at large. Another was the initiative’s unifying assumption, which was also most tangible to the majority of Hamburg’s citizens despite the complexity of the topic: energy services are a matter of the common good and must not become object to the maxim of profit maximisation.

Yet, until the Election Day the outcome of the referendum was uncertain mainly due to the massive opposition forming up against OHOG, led by the political parties of SPD, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Liberal Party (FDP) and numerous organisations of trade and industry, such as the Chamber of Commerce, and of course the energy utilities Vattenfall and E.ON themselves. This led to a clear asymmetry in power and resources between the Yes and No campaign in the run up to the referendum. Manfred Braasch, managing director of Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND) in Hamburg and one of the leading lights of OHOG estimates the ratio of available resources with 1:100: “So we had one Euro and they at least a hundred to place respective ads, print material, etc.” Another former member of OHOG, Dirk Seifert, illustratively recollects that each member of the citizens’ initiative was becoming “increasingly nervous […], since you walk through Hamburg and see with what public advertising force these companies [Vattenfall and E.ON] can cover the whole city […]. The evening the votes were counted was nerve-racking […] but in the end we could relax and had won.”

Implementation of the Referendum and Status Quo

Target 1) was tackled directly after the referendum decision. Representatives of the City Government immediately started to negotiate the re-purchase conditions of the energy distribution networks with the suppliers Vattenfall and E.ON.

In February 2014, Vattenfall and the City of Hamburg reached an agreement over the purchase of the 27,000 kilometre long electricity distribution grid for the total price of 550 million Euros. The transition from shifting Vattenfall shares into municipal ownership was eventually completed in April 2016 by maintaining the entire workforce. This also proofed the concerns of the workers union IG Metall before the referendum as groundless. The IG Metall, according to its First Representative Ina Morgenroth, positioned itself against the remunicipalisation as pursued by OHOG, expecting political commitments to not put employment at stake that nobody could give. In the first year, the electricity grid operation generated a total benefit of 34.5 million Euros for the city. Essential restructuring and investments let the benefits sink towards around 6 million Euros in 2015. In this context, the numbers of 2016 can be awaited eagerly to allow a more accurate assessment whether the remunicipalisation of the electricity grid also generates the expected monetary benefits for Hamburg. The negotiations over the gas distribution grid between E.ON and the City of Hamburg dragged on until December 2014. Eventually, both parties came to an agreement that would allow the city a repurchase of the gas grids in 2018 for a total price of 355.4 million Euros.

In general, the constitution of this new instrument for democratic control of the energy distribution grid is seen as an unprecedented innovation, giving Hamburg a unique opportunity to make questions of energy policy subject to a wide-ranging debate throughout society.

What remains uncertain is the remunicipalisation of the district heating distribution network that provides about 440.000 residential units with heat and is the most energy intensive and valuable energy distribution grid. Similar to the gas distribution grid, the City Government merely negotiated a purchase option for the year 2019 with Vattenfall. Due to the constitutional level of a referendum decision its implementation should merely be a matter of political decency. However, there are uncertainties regarding a repurchase of district heating, since members of Hamburg’s political sphere are already looking for a way out to avoid the expensive repurchase of the district heating grid for a fixed minimum purchase price of 950 million Euro, arguing that such a financial risk is incompatible with the budgetary regulations of the Hamburg City State. Yet, the former members of the initiative OHOG remain confident that a remunicipalisation will eventually be carried out by the City Government, since the political risk of defying the people’s decision is too high. Furthermore, essential practicalities still require clarification and foresight even though the City does not own the district heating grid yet. This mainly refers to the question of how to substitute an old coal power plant in Hamburg’s west with renewable sources to fulfil target 1)’s requirements of the referendum decision. So far, the power plant still provides a great share of the city’s heating demand through cogeneration of heat and electricity from coal. Clean alternatives for heat production from renewable sources are still explored by Hamburg’s State Ministry for the Environment and Energy in feasibility analyses and until now decisions are still pending.

In general, the constitution of this new instrument for democratic control of the energy distribution grid is seen as an unprecedented innovation, giving Hamburg a unique opportunity to make questions of energy policy subject to a wide-ranging debate throughout society.

Target 2) certainly constituted an even greater challenge for the City Government, as it requires a clear definition of what is meant by the stipulation of a ‘socially just, climate-friendly and democratically controlled energy supply from renewable energies’. Particularly the question whether to interpret ‘democratic control’ literally – as a direct control mechanism – or merely as an instrument for a consultative involvement, necessitated intensive discussions. The consultations on this question was facilitated by the Environmental Committee of the Hamburg City Parliament and carried out under the participation of a broad range of stakeholders, including representatives from environmental organisations, business and industry as well as employee representatives.

Ultimately, in February 2016, energy senator Jens Kerstan announced the formation of an Energy Advisory Board, which was integrated in the Energy Agency at the City’s Departmental Authority for the Environment and Energy. Members of this new Board include a broad range of 20 representatives from society, science, business, industry and most importantly all local grid companies, also including Vattenfall and E.ON, which still remain main shareholders of the district heating and gas distribution grid until the purchase options has been exercised. The board meets at least twice a year and already in 2016 there have been meetings in April, June and September, as well as an internal meeting in July. Each official meeting of the Energy Advisory Board is open to the public, giving citizens the opportunity to ask questions or to bring forward written proposals.

In general, the constitution of this new instrument for democratic control of the energy distribution grid is seen as an unprecedented innovation, giving Hamburg a unique opportunity to make questions of energy policy subject to a wide-ranging debate throughout society. However, the main challenge remains in form of the actual influence the Advisory Board should have on grid-related decision-making. While some members seek direct rights to also co-determine corporate decisions of the city-owned energy distribution grid company ‘Hamburg Energienetze GmbH’ (HEG), other members of the board merely want to limit the influence of the board to an advisory function. This basically constitutes a continuum that requires a well-balanced compromise in order to avoid the board becoming a toothless tiger or inefficient committee, slowing down the remunicipalisation process through limiting the HEG’s ability and pace in operative actions.

Remunicipalisation as essential Element of the Energiewende

The major question, not only in Hamburg, certainly is to what extent a municipally managed energy distribution grids can contribute to a successful implementation of the Energiewende. The majority of the interviewees (even two former opponents of the remunicipalisation) agree that a municipalised grid provides direct access and the ability to act in favour of shaping the Energiewende. Primarily, this refers to grid-related investment decisions or the reinvestments of profits from the grid management. Regarding these investments in the electricity distribution grid, Alexander Heieis, former chairman of the works committee at Vattenfall and now employed at Stromnetz Hamburg, the municipal electricity distribution grid company, perceives a major difference between the latter and his former employer: “If Vattenfall would have remained owner of the electricity grid […] it would have been more difficult [for Vattenfall] to carry out these investments in same way, as they are already foreseen by today.” Heieis explains this difference in pace and extent of investments with a missing understanding of the Energiewende at the management level of Vattenfall. Other interviewees see another major difference in this context, stating that a publicly-owned energy distribution grid company is detached from the maxim of utility or profit maximisation and instead perceives the performance of its task rather as a public service to the common good.

Expert reports are carried out at the moment to determine the actual potential the city provides regarding district heating. For instance, possible alternative renewable heat supply could be generated from waste incineration plants, waste wood or industrial waste heat. Nevertheless, whether Hamburg could cover its entire heat demand from renewable energy remains a major challenge and needs decisive political action.

In terms of grid-specific properties, the district heating distribution grid, so far mainly running on coal, is crucial to successfully implementing the Energiewende. As natural monopoly, district heating is not obliged to the principle of unbundling, describing the separation of the network operator and energy supplier. Hence, ownership over the district heating grid means to not only own the grid, but also decide over the source of energy. In Hamburg the energy sources for the district heating are planned to be shifted towards renewables on the long term. Expert reports are carried out at the moment to determine the actual potential the city provides in this regard. For instance, possible alternative renewable heat supply could be generated from waste incineration plants, waste wood or industrial waste heat. Nevertheless, whether Hamburg could cover its entire heat demand from renewable energy remains a major challenge and needs decisive political action.

Hamburg – Quo vadis?

So far, Hamburg can be considered on track in implementing the referendum decision. However, key challenges remain unsolved. In particular, the repurchase of the district heating grid is still uncertain, but would be crucial for further implementing the Energiewende, while also decisively contributing to Hamburg meeting its climate mitigation targets in 2030. A failure in this regard would be irreversible with no possible prospect of a second attempt to repurchase the district heating distribution grid from Vattenfall in the near future, putting the Energiewende and climate protection at stake. Dirk Seifert, former member of OHOG and a representative in the Energy Advisory Board yet remains optimistic, noticing that since the referendum “the opportunities and obligations for the Hamburg Senate and City Parliament have grown tremendously, while it nevertheless remains a political struggle to ensure that these are implemented through institutions and forms of public participation […]. It is our task to push and press in this regard.”

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