Environmental aid shows how municipalities benefit from the expansion of renewable energies

Municipalities that are actively involved and specifically control the expansion of renewable energies on their territory. This is a central result of joint research work by Deutsche Umwelthilfe e. V. (DUH) and the Institute for Applied Material Flow Management (IfaS, Trier University of Applied Sciences). During the two-year study, the role that municipalities play in the expansion of regenerative energy technologies and the extent to which they can benefit financially was examined.

The results of the study “Municipal Investments in Renewable Energies – Effects and Perspectives” funded by the Federal Ministry for the Environment prove on the one hand that investments by the municipalities or their companies such as public utilities and housing associations are a decisive prerequisite for the reorganization of the energy supply system at the local level. On the other hand, the study shows that the municipalities basically have a wide range of instruments at their disposal for the targeted promotion of the expansion of renewable energies. If the municipalities take a systematic approach to using these instruments, value creation can be tied up locally.

“All in all, the results of our study show that municipalities are particularly successful when they act strategically and in self-organization,” explains Michael Müller, head of the department of material flow management and zero-emission concepts at IfaS.

This is due to the fact that everything that leads to an increase in regional added value and purchasing power in this area must first be initiated and regulated by the municipalities: the participation of citizens, the settlement of companies and, of course, their own investments in regenerative energy technologies or infrastructures.

“Regional cooperative models, investments in companies, opportunities for participation and investments by local actors are the key to generating additional regional profits, income and municipal tax revenue”, adds Mueller.

“All in all, the results of our study provide clear evidence that it is counterproductive to only conduct the public discussion about the allegedly high costs of the energy transition. Rather, the study shows that municipalities can become beneficiaries of the energy transition if they pursue their own strategy and work towards stable framework conditions.”, says Robert Spreter, who heads the “Municipal Environmental Protection” department at DUH.

The project partners have drawn up comprehensive individual case studies for a total of eleven municipalities participating in the study. It was calculated which added value cities and municipalities generate with their renewable energy plants built between 2000 and 2010 over a plant life of 20 years. The municipal added value, which can be derived from the local expansion of renewable energies, is made up of the proceeds from the municipalities’ own renewable energy systems, trade tax revenue, a share of income tax and rental income. In addition, the importance of the expansion of renewable energy for “citizens” and for “local companies” was evaluated.

The study results serve as a basis for concrete recommendations for action to municipal decision-makers who want to optimize the increase in value added from the local use of renewable energies in a targeted manner.

The publication entitled “Strategy: Renewable – Recommendations for action for municipalities to optimize value creation from renewable energies” is published by the DUH and the IfaS together with the German Association of Towns and Municipalities (DStGB). It can be downloaded from The publication documents the options available to cities and municipalities to keep value creation in the municipalities in the long term.

The final scientific report on the overall study can be found at

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