Masterplan for Energy Transition

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Main actors

City Government, Community / Citizen Group, Private Sector, other

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Project area

Whole City/Administrative Region

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Ongoing since 2012

Dortmund’s Masterplan for Energy Transition brings all sorts of stakeholders together to develop a vision for the city’s energy future.

Dortmund came up with a plan to lay the groundwork for an energy transition across all sectors of society. The plan centred on a participation process enabling citizens, scientists, the energy industry and business and political communities to share their experiences and start shaping a new vision. In five citizen/expert workshops on the key topics of Energy Education, Energy Poverty, Mobility, Resources and Business, more than 150 citizens participated. They developed project ideas, described challenges and achieved broad consensus on how to handle these demands. The broad participation process aimed at creating understanding and acceptance to gain ambassadors for energy transition in all parts of society. This process was coordinated by a project team and overseen by a steering committee led by the lord mayor. 

Originally published by EUROCITIES, the network of 130 European cities - PDF:

Sustainable Development Goals

Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

Eurocities Awards

This project was shortlisted for the 'Eurocities Awards' in 2014 in the following category: Participation.

Dortmund, Germany

Size and population development
575,944 (as of 2013); 8th largest city in Germany

Population composition
About 30% of the residents are of non-German origin

Main functions
Regional administrative, commercial and cultural centre

Main industries / business
Dortmund has historically been an industrial area

Administrative structure
Independent district-free city (not part of another local government entity)

Germany’s decision to shut down all nuclear power stations by 2022 and switch from fossil and nuclear energy to renewables and efficiency presented a challenge for the whole country. A challenge to restructure energy supplies so that they are safe, sustainable and economically viable. Dortmund is an old industrial city, traditionally reliant on coal and large infrastructures. Creating a flexible, modern energy system required mainstream understanding of the issues and cooperation to re-imagine the future.

The participation process initiated by the City of Dortmund covered the following objectives:

  • the definition of visions, prospects, potentials and networking opportunities,
  • target-group-oriented awareness-raising and activation of society as a whole, 
  • development of the city as a location for participation, innovation and science, 
  • presentation of an overall concept capable of general consensus and adapted to demographic developments.

Exchanges happened through various means, including discussion platforms and co-decision making. At the outset, participants needed time to assimilate a lot of new knowledge and some were confused by the openness of the brief. Once they realised the connection between the issues and what mattered to their own lives and livelihoods, they began to direct discussions and promote their own project ideas.

These ideas were seen as an important indicator of participants’ growing understanding of how energy efficient behaviour could be part of everyday life and knowledge and use of renewable energy more widespread. Many of these projects were approved by an advisory committee and went on to be developed by consortia involving local companies. This helped add value to the whole initiative by enabling tangible progress and supporting the local economy without additional municipal funding.

The first set of projects included a mobile app for 12-25 year olds that turns learning about the benefits of renewable energy into a game. The goal of this app is to earn enough virtual money from installing renewables on Dortmund’s most famous buildings to buy its football stadium. Jochen Meis, head of research at GeoMobile, explains: "The mobile app we developed brings knowledge about Dortmund’s energy needs and opportunities to teenagers in a fun and realistic way. It features the city’s actual buildings, sunshine levels and wind speeds within a game they can play, master and share via social media."

Another project was helping companies jointly analyse energy issues in the supply chain and find more efficient ways of producing, transporting, storing and selling goods. In other projects, electro-mobility was being given a boost by a ‘Customer and Innovation Lab’ inspiring suppliers to introduce new ideas and kick start new services. Over 100 new homes capable of generating more energy than they use are being built in the city. And companies in one innovation business park are being challenged to reduce their carbon emissions and energy costs to establish a precedent that can be copied across the city’s industrial parks.

The City of Dortmund runs the Energy Transition bureau and coordinated the L.E.D. (Leitstelle Energiewende Dortmund) Centre for Energy Transition Dortmund. The costs for implementing the projects, measures and investments are the responsibility of the different project partners. The level of directly incurred costs for this process were very low. 

The funding periods of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia and of the European Union will be of key significance for implementing the measures and projects in the Masterplan Energy Transition for the period until 2020.

An implementation roadmap has been drawn up, incorporating the projects and key topics that have emerged from the discussions. Thirty of the 215 projects put forward have already been implemented, and many more will follow.

As well as leading to purposeful projects, the Masterplan Energy Transition project has also been successful in terms of creating a culture of discourse and consensus building in the city.

In the meantime, Dortmund is making the most of two additional opportunities that have emerged unexpectedly. As a result of the range and quality of projects generated, the city has decided to integrate many of these into Dortmund’s Urban Development Plan. This will see half of the city become a demonstration area for innovative projects. The Masterplan project has also given the city the smart ideas, participation structures and impetus to apply for EU funding to become a smart city.

Over 400 people got involved in these workshops, which explored the risks, threats and opportunities associated with issues such as energy education, climate change and energy poverty. The process links different levels of participation, from providing/receiving information to active cooperative involvement and co-decision-making using modern civic participation tools.

Considering the benefits of the Masterplan development process, Dr Jan Fritz Rettberg from the TU Dortmund University explains: "The Masterplan project succeeded in creating acceptance of both the participation process, which will be invaluable to the city as it faces other challenges in the future, as well as acceptance of the opportunity we have to help energy transition in Germany fly."

Cities in action - Masterplan Energy Transition Dortmund, Citizens leading an energy revolution - EUROCITIES, July 2015.

EUROCITIES awards entry form, Masterplan Energy Transition Dortmund (Masterplan Energiewende Dortmund), May 2014.

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Eurocities Awards
Brussels Capital Region, Belgium

Eurocities Awards

Institution | Urban Award

Kurt Pommerenke
Dortmund, Germany

Kurt Pommerenke

Individual | Project Manager

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