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Frankfurt am Main

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Besides being a global financial hub, the city of Frankfurt, home to 732,688 (2015) people, has been positioning 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 local buildings and the adoption of combined heat and power systems. In 2008, the Frankfurt City Council agreed to implement a list of fifty 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. The combination of these various initiatives will help Frankfurt reach its ambitious 100% target, which is closely connected to its climate strategy; they feature mutually reinforcing components and policy objectives.

Between 1990 and 2012, the City managed to reduce its emissions by 15% while the economy grew by over 50% which is a remarkable success. Another core element of Frankfurt’s approach is that it aims to combine a top-down and bottom-up strategy, involving local citizens and businesses in achieving its objectives while establishing a clear vision in its city-wide Master Plan. 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. 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. In order to maintain the momentum in the decades ahead, the authorities aim to increase awareness within local schools through a wide range of onsite projects in schools across the city, which will help create a wider consciousness among the city’s youth. The City’s Energy Agency is 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. The participatory elements make up important aspect of its success, and a valuable example to other jurisdictions seeking to implement a 100% strategy.

Due to the fact that Frankfurt is a relatively dense urban area, city representatives and local experts determined Frankfurt would need to rely on neighbouring communities and the surrounding rural area in order to reach the target of supplying 100 % the cities total energy needs from renewable energy sources. The current Master Plan 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 (CHP) and increasing the role of solar (both thermal and PV), wind, and the use of local organic wastes for both heating and power generation. 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.

Initially, the strategy was heavily criticized. Many argued that the target 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. Pilot projects helped create awareness, and over time, these individual projects began to generate more than simply electricity and heat: they began to generate momentum. As an indicator of its success, since 1990 when Frankfurt began to implement its climate and energy strategy, it has saved an estimated EUR 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. This demonstrates that an ambitious energy and climate strategy can provide significant cost savings to both governments and local residents and has been a powerful factor in maintaining momentum, and sustaining public and administrative support for the strategy.

More information:

Monday, October 9th, 2017

General Details

Timeline: 95% CO2 emission reduction: 2050, 100% RE target embedded in this strategy
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Status Quo

Total energy consumption:
Annual Electricity Demand: 5,702GWh (2010)
Percentage of RE in the total energy consumption:
11% of electricity and heat demand respectively covered by RE
Value of all economic activities (GDP or equivalent ):
54 973 Mio. € GDP (2011)

Project Features

Scope of engagement
yes Local/regional
Quality of the objectives
yes Terminated
Binding effect of the objectives
yes 100% REresolution made unanimously by county council/ government
Energy savings objective
yes Energy Efficiency Target