mPower

mPower is a Horizon 2020-funded peer learning programme to help municipalities in creating a fair, clean and democratic energy future. Cities of all sizes and energy system experience can apply with the programme running from 2019 to 2022. The project will facilitate the development and replication of innovative municipal energy system projects which maximise citizen control and benefit.

mPower has its own website at municipalpower.org.

Overview

European cities, particularly in Germany, Denmark and France, are municipal energy innovators running distribution networks, supply companies, renewable generation, citizen participation processes and finance for energy projects. Other cities across Europe are investigating their options for municipal energy and are looking to learn.

mPOWER will map existing municipal energy policy and identify innovations, best practice, as well as obstacles and barriers. The action will enable participant authorities across Europe to (a) learn from replicable best practices, (b) recognise risks, obstacles and blockages, (c) identify and commit to replication pathways that best suit local needs, (d) incubate at least 30 new and improved municipal energy policies and projects within the project duration. Lessons learnt will be disseminated publicly and through target networks in easily accessible format for replication.

An estimated 3.9GWh/year can be saved and 40.8GWh/year renewable capacity installed through replicating practices between participant cities within the action (respectively 9.8GWh/year and 108.8 GWh/year within three years of project end). This can be scaled up around Europe through wider replication, promoted by Energy Cities and partners beyond the project’s lifetime.

mPOWER’s project consortium brings access to an active network of cities committed to energy transition (Energy Cities, IPE), experience in energy policy (Platform, Energy Cities, IPE) and energy innovation (Carbon Coop), public services experts (UGLA, Basque University, TNI), and years of innovative peer-learning projects (Platform, TNI, IPE).

mPower Activate

In the final year of the four-year mPower project, five public partnership projects have been picked to receive additional support from the mPower team. Carbon Co-op staff are leading two of those projects in the UK and Portugal.

Nottingham and Plymouth Partnership (UK)

The Nottingham and Plymouth Local Authority Partnership is working to develop a sustainable financial approach to Local Authority driven whole house retrofit (owner occupier and private rented sector) with people experiencing fuel poverty with an emphasis on ‘worst first’.

There have been various pots of funding for fuel poverty energy efficiency schemes over the years as a result of government policy (Warm Homes Fund, CESP/CERT, ECO 1-3, Green Deal Communities, GHG LADs) however there have been issues around the effectiveness of these schemes, particularly in targeting those most in need.

Traditionally, energy efficiency schemes have been targeted based on relatively crude metrics, for example, income thresholds, fuel poverty status, or EPC band. However, the experience of living in an inefficient home is quite different for different households. Single parent households may disproportionately feel the financial impact of having a home with poor energy efficiency, even if the home has a relatively average level of energy efficiency. On the other hand, a disabled adult may feel the heating bill is not financially stressing but it’s hard to feel warm in the home.

Local Authority Officers in Nottingham and Plymouth explore whether sustainable sources of finance can be accessed to fund energy efficiency schemes through realising potential income saved for organisations and private individuals through retrofit. For example, the local hospital trust could make financial savings if those experiencing ill health through cold and damp homes had instead warm homes and reduced instances of ill health.

A better understanding of segmentation and targeting of households can allow schemes to demonstrate delivery against specific outcomes. A scheme that sets out to target those homes where the householder is likely to require hospital treatment in colder months with measures to improve the warmth of the property will deliver greater results than one approached through a more crude metric. Equally a scheme seeking to reduce debt and mental health caused by finance issues may seek to tackle families in privately rented houses and to include support that improves electricity bill costs as well as heating (where this may provide the greatest cost saving).

To this end the project is undertaking research and stakeholder engagement in the following areas:

  • the differing situations, needs and vulnerabilities of those in fuel poverty,
  • how this relates to the range of delivery costs of different retrofit packages,
  • co-benefits of financing retrofit for anchor institutions in Plymouth and Nottingham.

To find out more about this project please contact aneaka@carbon.coop.

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