Use case "Supporting the design and implementation of a regional energy strategy"

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The main problem addressed by this use case is the lack of data, and documented data flows supporting the design and implementation of a regional energy strategy. The study also tackles the scarcity of existing documentation or best practices on the role that geospatial data and technologies - particularly INSPIRE data - can play in the context of a regional energy strategy.

A key message that stands out of the study is that creating or renewing a regional energy strategy could greatly benefit from location interoperability

Location interoperability can facilitate data sharing for better cross-sector modelling, considering the potential interlinkages between the different strategic sectors in the region and the implemented measures. This cross-sectoral modelling would allow capturing how changes occurring in a specific sector may impact other sectors.

In this use case, one of the several developed under the Energy & Location Applications, the following three main aspects have been deepened:

  • an overview of the territorial competences in the field of energy in the Member States (national vs regional), as well as a summary of the public data sources potentially relevant to a regional energy strategy, has been provided;
  • a deep analysis of a real case of regional energy strategy, consisting in the Regional Energy Efficiency Strategy of Castilla y León (EEE-CyL-2020) in Spain has been made;
  • based on the previous analyses, the potential of harmonised and interoperable geospatial data, including from the INSPIRE Directive, to support the regional energy policy cycle in the European Union has been explored.

The following sections provide more information on the use case "Supporting the design and implementation of a regional energy strategy".

Objectives

  • To investigate the role that geospatial data and technologies can play to support the design, implementation and monitoring of a regional energy strategy.
  • To identify and analyse available open data to support regional energy strategies.

Problems addressed

Regarding the case study:

  • Lack of data
  • Lack of documented data flows

More generally:

  • Lack of existing documentation/best practices focusing on the role that geospatial data and technologies can play to support the design and implementation of a regional energy strategy.
  • Limited fitness-for-purpose of INSPIRE data in terms of their possible use in the context of a regional energy strategy.

Main steps

The use case has been broken down into the following steps:

  • Step 1 aimed to provide an overview of the territorial competences (national vs regional) in the field of energy in the EU MS and an overview of the public data sources potentially relevant to a regional energy strategy.
  • Step 2, the Regional Energy Efficiency Strategy of Castilla y León (EEE-CyL-2020), has been deeply analysed.
  • Step 3, the results of the two previous steps have been combined to explore the potential of harmonised and interoperable geospatial data, primarily through but not limited to the INSPIRE Directive, to support the regional energy policy cycle in the EU.

Results

Step 1:

  • Variety of data and access options: the data sources analysis has allowed us to observe that there is a vast amount of data available both from statistical offices and derived from projects. Similarly, the accessibility options to these data are highly heterogeneous and sometimes not immediate. The former has been particularly observed in the data derived from projects. Additionally, the preference to view data through user-friendly websites that use maps is present in several data sources, enabling one to visualise the data more clearly. However, special effort should be placed on providing data in easy processing formats (e.g. CSV, or enable connections through API, etc.).
  • Scope and scale: whereas the geographical scope of all datasets analysed were either European or international, the scale at which the data was presented was, in most cases, at the national level. However, because of supporting regional energy strategies, it is highly important to count also on sub-national level datasets, highly comparable. This would allow establishing comparable methodologies among the Member States. Hence, the data provided by Eurostat at the different NUTS levels is highly beneficial.
  • Supporting the modelling of other variables: some of the data analysed cannot be directly used to support regional energy strategies but can represent the basis for extracting variables to calculate relevant indicators to support regional energy strategies. This is the case of sources like Copernicus or OpenStreetMap.

Step 2:

  • High complexity of regional strategies: regional energy strategies entail a high complexity as they deal with different sectors that evolve in highly varied manners. Additionally, in this varied panorama, it is necessary to comply with objectives from the European Union, whose progress needs to be reported at the national state. As a consequence, counting on quality data to support the decisions is fundamental.
  • Essential role of objectives and monitoring: the key parameters guiding the implementation of the regional energy strategy are the objectives set from external sources (i.e. European Commission through its Directives) and the monitoring of the proposed actions to check whether the objectives have been achieved or not. Two considerations should be highlighted in this field:
    • Concerning the definition of the objectives, a question that should be posed is whether the objectives to comply with at the regional level should be the same as at the ones at the national or European level, or if they should be fine-tuned according to the regions’ possibilities. In the Castilla y León region case, they assume to comply at least with those coming from the European level.
    • For monitoring, it is undoubtedly a key activity that will determine whether a specific action has had the expected impact and contributed to achieving the established objective or not. To this end, the lines of action have been presented in the different sectors and the specific objectives to be achieved in each of them (final energy savings, primary energy savings, diversified energy and CO2 emissions avoided). However, measuring the impact of each action (aspect not been explored in this report) is a key factor to assure the success of the strategy.
  • Lack of timely data: when identifying the required datasets, the lack of timely data in some cases were identified. Indeed, when using official statistic data sources, the publishing date of the data versus the timeframe the data covers was extremely distant. As a result of not having adequate data on time, decision-making processes will need to be based on potentially obsolete data. Thus, a balance between using updated data coming from reliable sources versus delayed official statistical data should be found.
  • No geo-located data: it is worth highlighting that the Energy Efficiency Strategy of Castilla y León does not use geo-located data for its implementation or monitoring. Nevertheless, the scale of some of the data used can cover the province level (NUTS 3). Thus, there is a great opportunity to explore how geo-located data can support regional energy strategies in Castilla y León.

Step 3:

It has been shown how data harmonised according to INSPIRE and other geospatial data can support the implementation of regional energy strategies, focusing on a series of applications potentially useful in specific sectors.

However, not only deepening into each sector and potentially relevant data sources would be fundamental, but also understanding how each sector is linked to each other and other factors and transversal sectors affecting their development. Among these cross-sectoral factors, the economy, population, land-use, etc., and the many different indicators that characterise the region and have a clear impact on the development of the mentioned sector.

To this end, a potential clear improvement of the Regional energy strategy of Castilla y Leon would be to represent in an appropriate holistic framework modelling the different sectors considered as strategic in the region. The main purpose of cross-sectoral modelling would be to reflect better the potential interlinkages between the different sectors and implemented measures to capture how changes taking place in a specific sector impact on the others (e.g. measures related to energy efficiency affect not only the energy sector but also other sectors in an indirect way

Holistic framework modelling for a regional energy strategy
Holistic framework modelling for a regional energy strategy

In addition, the transversal sectors (e.g. economy, land use allocation, social and population) need to be reflected in the regional energy strategy to adequately project the variables of interest toward the future, analysing better the needs, additional issues that can arise and the potential solutions. For example, a better representation of economic development of the regions, along with population trends (also considering migration issues), land use availability and related opportunities, can foster a more accurate strategic analysis of the region. At the same time, it can allow finding better solutions adjusted to the particular state of the region.

All in all, the use of INSPIRE data sets could play a key role when defining the holistic framework modelling since the main sectors analysed for the Castilla y Leon region are already covered by some INSPIRE data themes.

  • It could also be considered, as a final goal, to provide a pan-European modelling framework to support any European region when developing energy strategies and during its evaluation phase.

Benefits

For regional energy agencies:

  • Achieve efficiency gains in the business processes related to the regional energy strategy lifecycle (anticipation, design, implementation, monitoring, reporting, reviewing), deriving from better data flows providing more information to support decision-makers.
  • Increase the effectiveness of the regional energy strategy, addressing specific local needs more accurately, and, ultimately, facilitating reaching the energy policy targets.

For national energy agencies:

  • Facilitate the implementation of energy policies at the national level, thanks to better coordination of regional energy strategies based on standardised data flows and harmonised geospatial data.

For companies working in the energy sector:

  • Increase their growth opportunities, thanks to the possibility to access geospatial data contained in the regional energy strategy depicting specific local conditions, which can support their decisions to better localise their business.

For citizens:

  • Receive, transparently and easily, general knowledge on energy-related aspects upon which the actions within the energy strategy are founded. Empowered with enough knowledge to be able to comment on specific actions contained in the regional energy strategy.
  • Increase their awareness regarding the planned actions and the expected effects that the regional energy strategy has in their region/area, and how that can influence their decisions (e.g. where to buy a new house based on the plans to build a district heating network or a local grid, where the building stock needs more refurbishment; etc.).