Solar Cities and Regions: Cities facilitating development part 2

by Thérèse O Donoghue - 12 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 16, 17, 18, and 19 in our series. You can find solutions 1-15 in our previous blog posts.

Photo: © ESV


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 staffing local authorities, promoting best practices, supporting solar SMEs, and developing public-private partnerships.

Solution 16: Staffing Local Authorities

The permit-granting process requires time, technical, financial, and human resources from local and regional governments and their related public bodies. They map renewable sources, plan the transition, and implement projects. However, local and regional governments and their related public bodies are struggling to recruit the necessary staff, as highlighted in the Covenant of Mayors Board’s open letter. 


With this acknowledgment, Energy Cities conducted its own study, focusing on the staffing needs of administrations to decarbonise the built environment, and provided key figures: local administrations would need 214,000 new positions between 2022 and 2030, at the EU level. This represents around 2.5 additional full-time positions in each European municipality, per year. The aim of this initiative, of which SolarPower Europe is among the signatories, is the recognition of the need for staffing and skilling of local authorities at European and national level.

Photo: © evoenergy

Solution 17: Promoting Best Practices

There are already 35,000 PV systems in Upper Austria. Together, they supply 15% of the annual residential electricity demand, and save annually 100,000 tonnes of CO2. 85% of new single-family houses are built with a PV system. Stepping up ambition, in its new solar PV strategy, the region of Upper Austria set itself the goal of 200,000 rooftop PV systems by 2030, increasing existing solar capacity tenfold. To drive this goal, the regional government and OÖ Energiesparverband (ESV), launched a large-scale solar campaign ‘Solar.Sonnenklar.


The campaign ‘Solar.Sonnenklar’ targets buildings in all sectors, and reaches out to a range of stakeholder groups. With this new PV strategy and campaign – combined with the development of renewable energy communities – Upper Austria and the ESV aim to make full use of the rooftop PV potential.

Solution 18: Supporting Solar SMEs

Launched as part of the solar committee co-sponsored by the region, the Auvergne Rhône-Alpes Energie Environnement association, and the Aura Digital Solaire trade association, the Solar Asbestos Removal’s call for project has three objectives. These objectives are: responding to a public health issue; protecting the environment by preventing uncontrolled asbestos removal; and supporting the energy transition.

Solution 19: Developing Public-Private Partnerships

The Örebro County Energy Agency, the Mälardalen Energy Agency, and other energy Swedish agencies aim to significantly increase the rate of investment in solar energy in SMEs in Eastern Central Sweden, thereby contributing to reduced carbon emissions, and increased competitiveness of the region’s economy.


The project aims to promote investment in solar energy among SMEs by breaking down knowledge barriers around regulations and market intelligence. It influences structures around the target group to enable investments in solar energy. The project disseminates information on solar energy, for example on how a company can realise a business idea linked to solar energy

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


Stay tuned for more solar city solutions!