Energy Transition Guidelines for Local Authorities

Author: Mr. Damir Miljević, RESET – Center for sustainable energy transition

The energy transition has taken full swing everywhere in the world. The development of technologies in the field of renewable energy sources has led to the fact that energy production from renewable sources is cheaper than production from fossil fuels. These technologies contribute to reducing the negative impact on the environment and fighting climate change. In addition to all this, the energy transition through decarbonization, digitization, decentralization and democratization of the energy sector represents the basis for a new industrial revolution, which opens the chance for everyone, through the process of decentralization and democratization of energy, to improve living and working conditions and define economic and social development on new bases. Therefore, it is no wonder that most countries in the world are working rapidly on all aspects of the energy transition, while the world’s largest powers are competing to be the leader in this process. In this context, through the new five-year development plan, China emphasized the energy transition and support for these processes. The USA passed the “Inflation Reduction Act” with which it should restore primacy in the energy transition. The EU, through the “New Green Deal”, is trying to impose itself as a leader in the world.

Local communities, small and medium-sized enterprises and citizens represent the focal point of the energy transition, given that it takes place on the ground and that all good and bad decisions, activities and consequences of transition processes have their reflection at the local and/or regional level.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, a very small number of local communities pay due attention and focus their activities on environmental protection and energy transition, not considering the new development opportunities that it provides in terms of economic development and increasing the quality of life of citizens. Burdened with daily problems, limited by small financial capacity and existing budgets, in conditions of lack of any systemic, professional and financial assistance from higher levels of government and hampered by inadequate legal regulations, they rely to the greatest extent on the help and projects of international organizations and donors who are welcome but they do not contribute to a systematic and thus not an effective and efficient transition process at the local level.

In light of the current energy crisis and the consequences it causes through the rise in energy prices and all other costs of living and doing business, local authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina should focus on the energy transition. At the same time, taking into account that they cannot expect any systematic help from higher levels of government, their actions should primarily be focused on:

  1. Developing own capacities for implementing the energy transition at the local level. This primarily implies the introduction of energy manager jobs into the structure of the executive authority at the local level with the task of coordinating all activities within the local community related to the transition process and coordinating activities with higher levels of government and other interested partners;
  2. Education and promotion of the energy transition in order for citizens and businesses in the local community to become subjects, that is, active bearers of the energy transition. Promotion and education can be realized through lectures and seminars, creation of instructions, informative materials and brochures on the topic of energy saving, new energy production technologies for own needs or through organizing a center for information and promotion of energy transition;
  3. Recording the structure of energy consumption and energy sources on the territory of the local community in order to create a basis for developing plans to increase energy efficiency and/or replace energy sources;
  4. Mapping the potential of the local community (primarily the potential of solar energy) to produce its own energy from its own sources. This primarily involves recording the potential of roofs on public and private buildings and municipal land suitable for the implementation of renewable energy projects;
  5. Creation of an energy transition action plan for at least a two-year period in which, based on the activities listed above, the activities, concrete projects, activity holders and financial resources needed for implementation would be defined.

All the aforementioned recommendations and guidelines do not require significant financial resources and it is possible, in most cases, to implement them with the use of local knowledge and capacities and thus create a basis for the systematic, effective and efficient involvement of local authorities and communities in the energy transition process.