Press releases

EU project POLIS unleashes solar energy potential

Published: 20/11/2012

Six major European cities present guidelines for solar urban planning in Europe

Cologne/Munich, Germany, 20 November 2012 – Six European cities have mobilised their solar energy potential through urban development, urban planning and other municipal activities within the framework of the POLIS research programme supported by the European Commission. Since 2009, they have developed solar action plans and implemented pilot projects. The insights gained from this practical experience have now been transposed into clear recommendations and guidance for urban planners in Europe. Consultancy company Ecofys was overall coordinator of the project.

A key goal of the project was to create networks at local and European level to bring together municipal decision makers, urban planners, local industry representatives, energy experts and other interested parties.

The POLIS team developed ten thematic guidelines describing the method of approach and implementation for measures to make use of solar potential. These measures include studies on solar potential, possibilities to define requirements on new building areas, and instruments aiding the evaluation of buildings. In addition, the team provided country overviews with information on the relevant framework conditions applicable in the individual countries.

19 pilot projects to implement local strategies

The cities participating in POLIS were Munich, Lisbon, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Paris, Malmö and Lyon. Working together with its technical partner each city drew up a solar action plan. Within the framework of these plans, pilot projects were developed in the four categories “Identification of solar potential”, “Mobilising the solar potential”, “Solar planning”, and “Political and legal instruments”. The local measures covered by the 19 pilot projects were implemented by the cities with the support of their technical partners during the project period running from 2009 to August 2012. “POLIS has shown the spectrum of measures that are possible on both the technical side and at process level. The measures ranged from solar registers and mobilisation and information campaigns to concrete projects at housing estate level. Even political and legal instruments were implemented”, stated Sigrid Lindner, project coordinator at Ecofys.

The project also took into account experience gathered Europe-wide from previously implemented projects in solar urban planning. POLIS collected examples of best practice from various cities and analysed and evaluated them for their transferability. A toolbox of existing and newly developed aids and planning instruments has been compiled on the project website

Foundation for urban planning in Europe

Within the framework provided by POLIS, the foundations for solar urban planning were laid in the cities that participated. In particular, municipal planning authorities were heavily involved since they are mainly responsible for urban development. Close consultation between the POLIS cities took place to share the findings from the pilot projects.

“Today's urban planning defines our living space of the future – often for several hundred years – and cannot be allowed to stand in the way of societal trends and developments. By including the sun in the planning concepts for our cities today, it will contribute to the welfare of the people, be it as electricity, heat or light”, pointed out Ramon Arndt, project leader at the city of Munich.

In a follow-up project, currently in the application phase, a training programme for experts is to be developed aimed at conveying knowledge on sustainable urban planning and in particular solar urban building.

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For further information on POLIS please visit the website

Ecofys – Experts in Energy

Established in 1984 with the mission of achieving “sustainable energy for everyone”, Ecofys has become the leading expert in renewable energy, energy & carbon efficiency, energy systems & markets as well as energy & climate policies. The unique synergy between those areas of expertise is the key to its success. Ecofys creates smart, effective, practical and sustainable solutions for and with public and corporate clients all over the world. With offices in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, the United Kingdom, China and the US, Ecofys employs over 250 experts dedicated to solving energy and climate challenges.   

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