On Sustainability in Local Energy Planning
Abstract: Energy is among the main driving forces needed for sustainable development. Provision of energy services, from the supply side to transmission/distribution and use, must include management, and good management requires tools. Energy planning is a tool for managing the community energy system through assessing and balancing supply and demand. This thesis explains an approach to energy planning which increases the capacity for managing and developing the community energy system in a more sustainable manner. Explaining the logic of planological integration in planning theory, the author describes how this logic can be applied to existing energy planning methods. These methods could be modified in such a way that fulfillment of sustainability objectives can be integrated into the planning process. Energy planning has been and is still used for managing the Swedish energy system at both national and local level. Since 1977, Swedish municipalities have been legally required to have a document called “Energy Plan” decided upon by the local government. Over 30 years of municipal energy planning and its effectiveness in promoting the local energy system is studied in this thesis. The main objective is to investigate to what extent existing energy planning methods can address energy-related sustainability objectives. A pilot project is carried out to examine whether proxy variables can be used to measure and monitor sustainability dimensions of local energy systems. It is observed that existing energy planning praxis is less suitable in addressing sustainability objectives. The main reason for the shortcomings of existing energy planning methods is that they typically have a narrow focus on local energy systems such as input-output (supply-demand) systems, which makes them inefficient as regards the transition toward sustainable energy systems. Other reasons identified include weaknesses in the relevant legal planning framework (the Municipal Energy Planning Act), problems caused by the deregulation of electricity markets, and a lack of financial resources for energy planning. Results from the pilot project indicate that properly defined energy indicators (such as energy use per capita, transport energy intensity, solid waste to energy) can be useful in monitoring the sustainability of local energy systems. It is observed that such energy indicators can also be useful in developing local energy systems through knowledge exchange and learning processes.
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