On Sustainability in Local Energy Planning

Abstract: Popular Abstract in English Human life in general, depends on having access to useable forms of energy for meeting the basic needs such as preparation of food and provision a comfortable place to live. Energy is also necessary for running the societal services for instance, transportation, health care and education. It is important to know what energy resources are available, how much energy is necessary for our societies to keep running. 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. Our societies are developing and the need for energy is increasing, we should not forget that irrational use of some energy resources such as coal and oil can have negative impacts on our environment and our health. Therefore, it is essential to consider the environmental, economic and social issues in our energy planning; and in this thesis it is explained that how these issues 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 how the sustainability of the community energy systems can be monitored and evaluated. It is observed that existing energy planning methods have the capacity to be improved by integration of environmental, economic and social aspects into planning process. It is also very important that the energy related stakeholders such as local energy companies, local and regional governments and research organizations do collaborate in making better energy plans and strategies. Results from the pilot project show that energy indicators can be useful in monitoring the sustainability of local energy systems. It is observed that such energy indicators can also be useful in developing our community energy systems through making comparisons between energy works in different societies and learn from their strengths and weaknesses.