More and more Flemish cities and municipalities are rolling out plans to become climate neutral. In this way they are contributing to the worldwide transition to a low-carbon society and at the same time working on a resilient and more liveable city. Reliable data is indispensable to making this local transition successful. With the Flemish Energy Balance and the municipal CO2 inventories, VITO/EnergyVille is supplying the necessary data for a solid energy and climate policy in Flanders.

How can we deal with energy even more efficiently? How can we ensure a more sustainable energy mix? How can we achieve a spectacular reduction in greenhouse gas emissions? Many cities and municipalities are confronted with these questions. In order to take effective measures on the road to a sustainable and low-carbon society, data is needed that tells us more about energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

Kaat Jespers:

VITO has been mapping the evolution of energy consumption and production in Flanders for years. We do this at the request of the Flemish government. Each year we draw up an Energy Balance for the Flemish Region: an inventory of energy consumption and production per sector and per energy carrier, with an analysis of the trends from 1990 onwards.

With these figures, VITO also contributes to the compilation of the Belgian greenhouse gas emission inventory that is reported internationally and to the EU. The data is also essential for underpinning Flemish energy and climate policy and for drawing up targeted action plans.”

Regional and local

The Flemish Energy Balance is not only an indispensable data source for the Flemish government. It also contains a wealth of information that can serve as a basis for establishing local energy consumption and production. Erika Meynaerts of VITO: “Cities and municipalities that have signed the Covenant of Mayors need specific data to meet their reporting obligations. They can find this in the municipal CO2 inventories that VITO draws up annually as part of a reference project. The Flemish government makes this information available to the public via the knowledge portal”

Practical coaching

Municipal and local authorities now know that they can rely on VITO for objective figures. “Because we’ve been handling the reference contract for the Covenant of Mayors for a number of years, we have a lot of experience,” says Erika Meynaerts. “We ensure the availability of the data and monitor its consistency. Municipalities make good use of it.” And VITO’s support for cities and municipalities goes even further. Yves De Weerdt: “Translating the data into actions at local level is quite a challenge. Which is why we offer customised calculations. Roeselare is one of the cities that came to us for a scientific basis for its climate plan. But there’s more. We also provide practical coaching. For example, we help municipalities set up participatory processes with which they can build broad support for the energy transition.”

Together with VITO we are working on a climate plan to achieve the objectives of the Covenant of Mayors. VITO supplies us with the most important energy data, conducts analyses, and is guiding us through our feasibility study.

Timo Wyffels
Climate expert for the city of Roeselare

Roeselare rolls out climate plan

Can Roeselare be climate neutral by 2030?

VITO/EnergyVille helps figure it out. Roeselare is a real pioneer in its approach to climate action, with among other things, its own district heating network. “We are convinced that we can achieve a sustainable transition in our city,” says Timo Wyffels, climate, energy and sustainability expert for the city of Roeselare. “And we want to aim high: will we succeed in becoming a climate-neutral city by 2030? Together with VITO we are working on a climate plan to achieve the objectives of the Covenant of Mayors. VITO supplies us with the most important energy data, conducts analyses, and is guiding us through our feasibility study. It’s not enough to have data available. You also need to make it usable for local policy-making: a challenge in itself.”

Individual participation for solar panels

Roeselare has already taken many steps. It has a district heating network which it is extending to the other side of the city. Timo Wyffels: “In addition, with a number of partners we submitted an application for a feasibility study within Flux50. Within this partnership, we want to set up an energy management system companies can use to consult up-to-date energy data for the region: a useful addition to the data we already receive through VITO. And we are going to equip our municipal buildings with solar panels. In this, we are looking for ways to involve individuals.” Such cooperation with individuals is a conscious choice. Individual participation is key to a successful energy transition for Roeselare. “Businesses, knowledge institutions and individuals need to realise the transition together. We therefore focus very much on partnerships and public collective partnerships. In this way we give individuals insight into their environment and we contribute to addressing climate change. For this concept, we were awarded the 2016 “Smart in the City Prize”.

Urban Agenda

Roeselare is also spreading its ambition outside the country. “Together with Gdansk (Poland) and London, we are coordinating the European Partnership for Energy Transition project,” says Timo Wyffels. “We are examining how the urban environment can contribute to the energy transition, one of the key focus areas of the European Commission’s Urban Agenda. The cooperation is particularly fruitful, also because the three cities differ in terms of scale and thus can learn from one another. What works in Roeselare, for example, can be implemented perfectly in a London neighbourhood. At the end of the journey, we make recommendations for contributing to urban energy policy at European level.”