Solar Cities and Regions: Cities facilitating development

by Thérèse O Donoghue - 10 October 2023
With three quarters of the European population living in urban areas, the bulk of energy consumption is happening in cities' territory – around 80% in the European Union. The number of people living in cities is constantly growing, and so is city demand for sustainable electricity, transport, heating, and cooling.

Cities are at the frontline of the energy transition. Solar is one of the key solutions to support cities in reducing their energy-related emissions and providing access to cheap, reliable energy for all! Furthermore, cities offer lots of rooftops and building space for solar PV to be placed, vital to ensuring Europe meets its energy and climate ambitions.


Ultimately, solar can support cities, and cities can support solar.

In this blog series, we will highlight 21 solar solutions for cities in the energy transition, starting off with how solar can help drive city climate and energy security goals. Below you can read solutions 12, 13, 14, and 15 in our series. You can find solutions 1-11 in our previous blog posts.

Photo: © Maesi64


Cities and local authorities are important partners for solar PV deployment. These actors not only own an important stock of public buildings, they define the rules for urban planning and permitting – they are the first contact point when it comes to authorising solar PV projects.  


In some cities, citizens and project developers lack data on solar potential and constraints, which makes it difficult to assess the economic viability of solar projects, and might deter investment in solar PV solutions


But good news! There are different solar solutions to address these issues, including bringing information to citizens, multiple use rooftops, setting solar rooftop standards, and cities becoming a single contact point.

Solution 12 : Bringing information to citizens

In order to reinforce information to local citizens about their solar potential, the city of Brussels has created a ‘solar map’ that provides a first estimation of the solar rooftop potential for all rooftops in the Brussels region. This solar map showcases the environmental, energy, and financial opportunities available to install solar PV on specific rooftops. It is accessible for all citizens and private companies within the limits of 12 kWp per installation – above which, additional grid network connection investment is necessary.


In Croatia in 2022, the city of Zagreb together with the North-West Croatia Regional Energy and Climate Agency (REGEA), developed a number of energy-related IT tools aimed at citizens, including solar PV potential tool, a Zagreb energy atlas, and a public building renovation monitor.

Photo: © Jean-Pol Grandmont

Solution 13: Multiple use rooftops

In 2022, a pilot project with vertical bifacial solar panels on a green roof (biosolar roof) was installed on a school in Oslo. The pilot project of approximately 5 kWp had successful results, and in 2023, the installation will be expanded to 50 kWp to cover the entire rooftop.


The solution is developed by the Norwegian startup Over Easy Solar, winner of SolarPower Europe’s Startup Award 2022. This shows how we can get the most out of green urban rooftops, and solar energy generation.

Photo: © Over Easy Solar

Solution 14: Setting Solar rooftop standards

In Berlin, from January 1, 2023, new and existing buildings that undergo a fundamental roof renovation and are in private use, must be equipped with solar PV on their building rooftop. Alternatively, the system can be installed on the building façade. New buildings must cover at least 30% of their gross roof area, while existing buildings must cover at least 30% of their net roof area with photovoltaic systems.

Solution 15: Cities as a single contact point

As early signatories of the Covenant of Mayors, Poreč-Parenzo committed to a 40% emission reduction by 2030. More recently, the town has been encouraging citizens to play a part in the energy transition, and develop their energy community, Parentium. This energy community is creating new and viable financing models for energy retrofits in historic public buildings, by means of integrating community-owned renewable energies. In addition, at the beginning of 2023, Porec launched its ‘Sunny Office’, a place where anyone interested in deploying solar energy installations can receive support free of charge.


In Spain, Valencia aims to cover the energy needs of its neighbourhoods with renewable energy - mostly solar - by 2030. The main instruments to achieve this target are one-stop-shops for the energy transition, i.e., energy offices.

Download the full report here, and listen to our solar cities podcast here.


Stay tuned for more solar city solutions!

Header image: ©Dronepicr