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“La Cel de Caldes” Local Energy Community of Caldes de Montbui
City/Region : Caldes de Montbui / Catalonia , Spain

“La Cel de Caldes” is a Local Energy Community born to promote the energy transition in our municipality by encouraging the use of photovoltaic energy, reducing CO2 emissions, and involving and giving all citizens a tool to make this possible. It is a natural way in which consumers can empower themselves by changing the model we have now, where energy can be produced locally and therefore gain independence from large generation plants. This means a more efficient consumption of resources, while also being a tool to fight energy poverty by helping the most vulnerable citizens.

EU Green Deal Policy Areas Addressed
Climate actionClean energy
Pathways followed
  • Ensure equal access to municipal services
  • Involve citizens through participatory implementation
  • Nurture a sharing economy
  • Capitalise on local economy and production
  • Wisely select and apply smart technologies
Context
Opening day of the Community - People queuing to ask and register at La CEL de Caldes

Caldes de Montbui is a town of 18.000 inhabitants. In December 2019, we (the local government) declared the Climate Emergency in the Local Assembly, and immediately afterwards we started drafting our Climate Action Plan. The drafting process of the Plan was exhaustive, transversal and with citizen participation. The Plan defines 67 actions that are structured in these axes: energy transition, sustainable mobility, zero waste, efficient water management, protection of the natural environment, biodiversity and agricultural activity and cross-cutting cooperation. Some actions have already been taken or are being carried out, such as the creation of the Climate Action Office, energy efficiency in public lighting and the promotion of a Local Energy Community: “La CEL de Caldes”. Even before the Plan was approved, we started to work on the Local Energy Community because it represents 26.4% of the Climate Action Plan’s objectives.

In Action
Opening day of the Community - Talks - Tomas Molina - Ambassador of the European Climate Pact

“La CEL de Caldes” is offered in 3 parts:

Part A: the public corporation makes the transfer of part of the energy of photovoltaic panels of public buildings (1kWp per family) available to eligible citizens. This modality is designed for people who have difficulty installing a photovoltaic installation (for example, those who live for rent in a housing block). In the first phase we have made 6 installations in 6 public buildings that have 200kWp, which are then distributed as follows: 100kWp for municipal self-consumption and 100kWp for 100 families as shared self-consumption. 

Part B: aimed at individuals, companies and other energy communities that already have their own photovoltaic installation. A public subsidy is offered to encourage people to make an installation as this reduces the payback period. The subsidy covers approximately 10% of the value of the installation and ranges between 500€ and 1.000€ depending on the power of the installation. Since the beginning of 2022, 115 families and 5 companies have asked to be part of it.

Part C: lays the administrative bases for public-private collaborations. For example: the rental of a public lot where a private company can build and operate a photovoltaic installation by paying a fee to the municipality. 

All people who are part of the Local Energy Community (in any of its modalities) have a monitoring service with a mobile application. The application provides data on electricity consumption, photovoltaic self-consumption and surpluses every hour. In this way, it is possible to be more efficient consuming electricity by programming the devices to work during the solar hours, for example. The creation of the application, the management of registrations and the maintenance of public installations is the responsibility of a local energy expert company (Elecsum), which won the public contest to do this work.

Isidre Pineda, Mayor of Caldes de Montbui:

"It is a mechanism to fight climate change while creating local sovereignty in energy and helping to reduce the electricity bill, encouraging participation and democratising energy."

Tomàs Molina, Meteorologist and Ambassador of the European Climate Pact:

"This initiative is part of the recommendations made by all scientific agencies and international reports on actions against climate change."

Integration

Sustainability and climate action in Caldes de Montbui are integrated into municipal policies in a specific and transversal way. Scientific evidence clearly shows the moment of climate emergency in which we find ourselves, and the need for action at a local level. Thus, the Climate Emergency Declaration of Caldes de Montbui of December 2019 requires an increase in the ambition of municipal actiona, so that the drafting of the Climate Action Plan (PAC) in the ODS 2030 horizon is aligned with the objectives of the Pact of Mayors for Climate and Energy.

Caldes de Montbui's commitment is summarised in: 55.2% reduction in emissions by 2030, compared to 2005; achieving climate neutrality by 2050, promoting decarbonisation and resilience policies; guaranteeing access to affordable, clean and safe energy; dealing with situations of energy poverty and inequality; working for a fair adaptation and transition.

Developing "La CEL de Caldes" means accomplishing 4 actions determined by the PAC, assuming 26.4% of the reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030 (10.287 TnCO2eq.) with a total cost of 2.120.233€ . Now we have finished phase 1 (380.000€), where the Local Energy Community is already operational with 6 installations, but we have planned the extension using the 36 available public locations and will continue encouraging the creation of private installations.

Right now, apart from being an example for many other municipalities, we are also working on the implementation of the model in the AMERC (Association of Municipalities of the Eix Riera de Caldes) of which Caldes de Montbui forms a part with five other municipalities. This would increase access to the Local Energy Community for a population of 89.847 inhabitants.

Results
First member of the community receiving the plaque by the Mayor

Part A: The participation fee is 50€/year for a calculated saving of 300-400€/year. In October 2022 (3 months operating) each family is saving an average of 40€ per month, therefore within the predicted calculations. There are a total of 100 awardee families, so the initiative benefits approximately 300 people in the town.

The part intended for municipal self-consumption is also meeting expectations. In 3 months, 10.000€ has been saved which can be allocated to efficient public policies.

Part B: at the beginning of the year there were 45 installations registered in Caldes. Since the launch of the Local Energy Community, there have been 120 requests to install photovoltaic panels. An increase of 300% due in part to the current context, but also due to the implementation of the Local Energy Community and the associated subsidies.

Part C: right now, work is underway in a public contest to implement a private installation on a public lot. This contest will be live in 2023, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the implementation of "La CEL de Caldes".

Impact

The implementation of "La CEL de Caldes", the Local Energy Community of Caldes de Montbui, has marked the beginning of the energy transition in our municipality. The media impact of the project and its implementation (at local, county and national level) has allowed the citizens of our town to become aware that we are all capable of taking useful actions against climate change, starting with the responsible use of energy and the use of renewable energies.

At the beginning of the project we calculated the photovoltaic potential of our town. And one fact caught our attention: if we are able to fill 7% of all the roofs in Caldes de Montbui with photovoltaic panels, we will be able to generate 30% of the total energy consumed by our town. And this is the final goal; an objective that will only be achieved with the involvement of all sectors: industry, citizens and the public sector.

The creation of a local energy community not only generates wealth when it is created, but continues to generate jobs during its operation and maintenance. Creating "La CEL de Caldes" has involved many actors: administration, installation companies, technology and engineering companies, and the results are beginning to be seen with a number of private installations (both industrial and public) that are being built.

It is a successful model because it works. And, moreover, it can be replicated. We have explained our model to more than 10 municipalities in our area, to supra-municipal associations (ACM – Catalan Association of Municipalities, AMB – Barcelona Metropolitan Area) and to relevant forums: presentation at the X Environmental Conference (University of Barcelona and Torres Corporation) 30/5/2022 and presentation at the 22nd Assembly of the Network of Cities and Towns towards Sustainability (Diputació de Barcelona) 15/6/2022.

Challenges and lessons learned
Mayor explaining La CEL to Deputies of the Parliament of Catalonia at the roof of the public library

The most difficult challenge has been the administrative process: it has been difficult to get the necessary permits and overcome the bureaucracy at the local level. It has also been difficult at an economic level since the costs have been assumed by the City Council without supra-municipal aid.

The total time invested was 2 years, with a lot of effort by the local technicians and the local government, but it was worth it because we managed to do something that did not exist in Catalonia: a Public Local Energy Community in a municipality of 18.000 inhabitants.

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Contact

ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability
European Secretariat

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79098 Freiburg
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Tel.: +49 (0) 761 – 368 92 0
Fax: +49 (0) 761 – 368 92 19

E-mail: info@sustainablecities.eu
Website: www.sustainablecities.eu

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