STUDY: Green Municipality,
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The government of the Netherlands committed itself to the Kyoto agreement,
which means for the year 2008-2012 a decrease of 6% CO2 emission compared
to 1990. This may seem a lot, but is only a first small step towards a
sustainable energy supply. Local authorities have two major roles in the
present energy system in the Netherlands: motivator and consumer. Municipalities
should accept consequences for their climate policy and take the opportunity
they have as a consumer. Electricity generated from renewable sources
or combined heat power contributes less to the increased CO2 emission
than electricity generated from oil or (brown)coal. The municipality of
Utrecht took their opportunity and purchased 'clean' electricity and asked
how the offered electricity is generated.
Utrecht occupies approximately 400 buildings and objects. Street- and
traffic devices in the city also consume a great deal of electricity.
Added to this, there is also a quantity of gas and district heating consumed.
In 1996 an extensive energy saving project was launched for municipality
buildings. In three phases Utrecht reduced the energy use in 100 buildings.
These 100 buildings use approximately 80% of the total energy consumption
in the municipal buildings. The three phases are:
- Phase 1:
motivating people working in the buildings for energy saving
- Phase 2:
developing an energy management system for the 100 buildings
- Phase 3:
implementing energy efficient measurements in buildings and installation
of all these acts show a CO2 reduction with an economical budget. As the
demand for energy in buildings and installations has decreased, it is
time to introduce renewable and 'clean' energy.
In the Netherlands
the energy market is liberalised in three tranches. In 2000 the municipality
of Utrecht was allowed to purchase electricity for street- and traffic
devices. Utrecht uses standardised tenders and can tender for the best
economic value. Utrecht chose not to tender for 100% renewable electricity.
First of all is the supply of renewable electricity not very large in
the Netherlands. Besides this are the prices for renewable electricity
quite high for large users.
The former minister of Economic Affairs Mrs. Jorritsma stated that the
labelling of electricity, with the exception of renewable electricity,
should be a market development. Utrecht wishes labelling of all electricity
(renewable, combined heat power, nuclear, coal et cetera). In this way
the consumer can compare between price and quality and choose between
different 'products'. It may be that the 'market' of local authorities
in the Netherlands (the Netherlands have approximately 600 local or national
authorities) can force energy suppliers to label their electricity. Someone
had to start, and Utrecht did.
The municipality of Utrecht tendered for electricity produced with the
lowest emission of CO2. The amount of nuclear energy should be minimal.
The winning supplier offered 5% renewable electricity and 95% electricity
generated by combined heat power.
Electricity from combined heat power stations (gasheated) has a 20 –
25% lower CO2 emission compared to the standard Dutch fuel mix (gas, coal
and nuclear sources). By purchasing 'clean' electricity the city of Utrecht
reduces the annual CO2 emission approximately by 1400 ton.
The next tranche of the Dutch liberalisation starts in 2003. Beside electricity
for street- and traffic devices, the municipality will tender electricity
for about twenty municipal buildings. In this tender the guarantees for
the offered electricity will be stricter. Despite the municipal demands
about the origin of the electricity, the offered electricity was 10% cheaper
than before. It is expected that in the next tender electricity prices
may be higher compared to the first offer, due to the extra demands. The
municipality should be trustworthy and not choose for the cheaper and
more 'dirtier' electricity. Obviously, this choice is not always easy
in the political arena.
There is no benchmark data.
The environmental conditions were defined in the tender by a collaboration
between the purchasing and environmental departments of the municipality.
The experiences have been told to approximately 100 local authorities
in the Netherlands in order to start a discussion about their role as
The idea has been awarded with the Energy Award 2001, an award presented
by the Dutch national energy agency.
The municipality has learned a great deal on the tender. Unfortunately,
the consumer must still trust the supplier that the delivered electricity
is 'clean' electricity. The delivery of 'clean' electricity is not guaranteed
by official documents. In the next tender the guarantees for the offered
electricity will be stricter. However, the guarantees will not be solid
proof, until an independent supervisor labels electricity. Other problems
also occurred with the tender for street- and traffic devices. Through
the years the energy distributor had been included all sort of services
in the electricity price. Contracting an energy supplier requires a clear
and written record of how the old price was constructed. Thus, prices
for ecotax, transportation, TF signals (switch for turning on and off
the streetlights) et cetera should be known. In Utrecht serious problems
occurred and the national government is repairing the unclear regulations
in the Electricity Law at this point.
Every municipality and enterprise purchasing electricity, can think about
their role as a consumer and contributor to the CO2 emission and act upon
As the European energy market is not fully harmonised, the transferability
might be different in different European countries.
ON SUSTAINABILITY AREAS
environmental: small; there is a small reduction of the CO2 emission
social: high: setting the good example for all consumers
economic: unknown: if many consumers ask 'clean' electricity, more environmental
friendly production units will appear. It could lead to the development
of a new product for energy suppliers beside the existing renewable electricity.
City of Utrecht
3503 RK Utrecht
tel: +31 30 286 4598; fax +31 30 294 6634; e-mail A.Harting@utrecht.nl