Strategic planning to support sustainable energy in smart cities

4 May 2021

IfM Engage has helped the City of Malmö in Sweden to refine their strategic planning for energy transition and evaluate how a pilot project addresses the UN Sustainable Development Goals and other climate targets.

Group of factory job workers using machine equipment in manufacturing workshop

The City of Malmö aims to become Europe’s first carbon-neutral municipality, with a goal of being entirely powered by renewable and recycled energy by 2030. The city also aims to showcase the possibilities for sustainable urban development.

The Interreg NSR-funded ACCESS project helps cities such as Malmö address shared challenges to developing and upscaling low-carbon solutions. The project connects technology providers, education and research organisations and cities together to work towards net-zero carbon energy ambitions.

As part of the ACCESS project, Malmö is building a new parking facility that will serve as a local energy centre in a new residential area in the city. The building will have solar panels, parking spots with electrical charging stations, and an energy storage capability. An intelligent monitoring and control system will integrate and operate the individual components.

The pilot study will evaluate different optimisation scenarios based on the energy load data, aiming to reduce the building’s carbon footprint and to provide grid services to Malmö’s local electricity grid.

This pilot is an important part of city’s overall transformation process. Coherent policy and governance systems with underpinning targets and initiatives are important pillars in facilitation of the energy transition. Together with strategic planning, they build a key framework for the successful upscaling of innovative concepts and solutions.

In order to support City of Malmö in their strategic planning, IfM Engage conducted a gap analysis to map out how their policy strategy addresses the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and to evaluate the consistency of the strategic policy goals and the subsequent governance regulations.

Transparency through clear definition

The analysis covered four strategic governance levels: (1) The 17 UN SDGs; (2) Malmö’s Strategic Policy Goals 2030 relevant to their energy strategy and environmental programme; (3) strategic targets in four areas: reliable electric system, local energy efficient and renewable energy supply, energy and resource efficient buildings, and sustainable energy for transport; and (4) subsequent initiatives.

The first step in the evaluation was an individual scoring of the impact of each regulation from seven delegates from the City of Malmö who represented the city’s technical departments. After these were analysed by the IfM Engage team, an interactive workshop with the representatives was held where the results were reviewed and discussed.

Overall, Malmö’s Strategic Policy Goals 2030 were found to strongly address the relevant SDGs, without any major gaps in the underpinning regulations.

However, certain goals and initiatives required stronger definitions and clarity of scope, as it was not clear how they contribute towards a particular strategic target. For example, a specification is needed to meet a target that aims for no increase in the total energy use of buildings in Malmö over the next decade. Other targets regarding promotion and the increase of the local sustainable energy supply for transport require an alignment with the simultaneous promotion of electric vehicles and the subsequent increase in energy demand.

These findings were formulated in an action plan to be taken forward with further strategic planning activities.

This project highlights that the implementation of the energy transition is not a one-way, top-down process of developing strategy and upscaling new technology. Instead, it requires an agile approach where all levels of the ecosystem are reviewed and continuously improved.

For more information about the project, please contact Diana Khripko, Senior Solution Development Specialist


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Smart cities: Strategic planning and strategy implementation

About IfM Engage strategic planning tools and solutions

The IfM Engage team used a linking grid tool to analyse the impact of the regulations at different governance levels and develop their findings. Find out more about IfM tools and solutions that could help your organisation.

About ACCESS partners

As part of the ACCESS project, local authorities Amersfoort (Netherlands), West Suffolk Councils (UK), Malmö (Sweden) and Mechelen (Belgium) jointly explore and demonstrate scaled approaches to developing and upscaling low-carbon solutions, including local energy community hubs, peer-to-peer energy trading models and local collaborative planning tools. Support from four knowledge partners (Aarhus University, Johannesberg Science Park, IfM Engage, VITO) provides expertise and structure.