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CITY VOICES: Region Rhine-Neckar

Questions to Bernd Kappenstein, Head of Energy & Environment, Region Rhine-Neckar, Germany

Why did the region choose to participate in the CITyFiED project, and how does it fit in with your energy and environment strategy? 

In 2012, the Metropolitan Region Rhine-Neckar has adopted a regional energy concept with the expressed objective to become a model region of energy efficiency and renewable energies until 2020. To reach this goal, 75 measures have been formulated which are to be concluded within this timeframe. The highest priority is given to the saving of energy, particularly in the building stock. Approximately 30% of primary energy is needed for heating and hot water production. Approximately 70% of residential buildings should be energetically refurbished.  By means of information campaigns and projects we want to achieve refurbishment of a major part of these buildings. Our cities and municipalities are committed to sustainability and climate friendly energy supply. We want to contribute to the EU project CITyFiED by introducing our experiences and, on the other hand, profit from gained knowledge.

What smart city measure or energy solution would you like to share with the CITyFiED community? 

In our experience, the transition to sustainable energy supply (also called energy transition) can only succeed if we include all affected groups, the energy users, house owners and especially the municipalities and convince them of the importance of a climate friendly and sustainable energy supply. In over 80 municipalities in our region we held an Energy Caravan that initiated over 5,000 building refurbishments and over 60 million EUR of investments. With a competition we called upon the citizens of different municipalities to hand in ideas. This competition had great success. In Citizens Energy Associations the civil society is contributing intensively to the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energies. These are also experiences we are happy to share. Furthermore, climate friendly building and insulating materials are produced in our region. Moreover, modern energy technologies and IT-solutions are developed which are oriented towards sustainable environment and resource protection.

Region Rhine-Necker most ambitious smart city or energy efficiency target? 

In 2014, Wiesloch, a small city in our region, in cooperation with two other cities has introduced a proposal to the program Smart Cities and Communities and only failed very closely by half a point. Further cities of our region show great potentials for a Smart City. Heidelberg, Mannheim and Ludwigshafen are already on a promising path. But also the region as a whole is thinking about developing into a Smart Region or a model region for digital infrastructure. The Contacts within the project CITyFiED are very helpful for that. Besides, our city Ludwigshafen is a member of the City Cluster and will implement new findings from the CITyFiED-Project as far as possible.