The world has to rapidly transform its energy system, shifting from one based on oil and fossil fuels to one without greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, characterized by a rational and efficient use of energy and energy sources clean and renewable. In this way, the serious consequences of climate change of which the IPCC, based on the conclusions reached by the world scientific class.

At this crossroads of change, the question we ask ourselves is whether local agents and, in particular, Local Development Agencies (ADL) have a role to play play in this race for the weather. A global fight in which very relevant steps are already being taken with the assumption of important political commitments both globally (“Paris Agreement”, signed at the Paris Climate Conference; COP21), as well as at the level of the whole of the EU that maintains a clear climate leadership and Basque Country that is perfectly aligned with the European guidelines, wants to reduce its GHG emissions by at least 40% by 2030 and by at least 80% by 2050, compared to 2005. All this, with 21% and 40% of energy consumption from renewable sources in 2030 and 2050 respectively, maintaining energy demand in 2030 at the same levels as in 2015 and improving energy intensity by 33%.

The answer is clear: the ADLs have to reorder their current interaction with citizens, entrepreneurs, companies and also with the Public Administration by filtering it through the necessary energy transition to a world without carbon. In order to achieve the climate-energy objectives, it will be necessary to promote ambitious projects in areas as relevant at the local level as construction, mobility or industry in which the ADLs are already involved in a proactive and dynamic way.

In the field of construction and mobility, it will be necessary to join forces to transform buildings and the way of getting around, articulating systems with a neutral balance of GHG emissions: carbon-neutral buildings and new ways of getting around in the that electric mobility from renewable sources, and the systems that provide intelligence to transport are the central core. For the ADLs, new work opportunities are opened up with people so that they are truly aware that in this transformation they have a lot to gain: providing citizens with tools so that they know the carbon footprint left by their way of life, providing reliable information on alternative technologies to the current ones that can be used either to heat the home, or to move around and, most importantly, interact with the financial sector and all Public Administrations so that energy transformation projects have financing enough to make them really feasible, guaranteeing that the savings in the energy bill cover the investments: projects to improve the insulation in buildings, renovation of heating and air conditioning systems, boosting the generation of renewable energy on building roofs, electric vehicles, ….

The transformation of the energy model is currently consolidating as a new opportunity niche for entrepreneurs and companies, an area in which the ADLs have traditionally focused a good part of their promotional work. The proactive intervention of the ADLs thus becomes a key factor so that the energy transformation projects carried out in the Territory serve to boost the local economy, being a source for the creation of new companies, as well as additional demand for the already consolidated companies.

In addition, energy has been chosen in the Basque Country as one of the strategic priorities for smart specialization (See RIS 3 of the Basque Country) in which the human, technical and financial resources are to be focused, based on science, technology and innovation, progress is made in the consolidation of a competitive productive fabric at a global level.

This priority includes all activities related to the broad energy value chains in which, as a consequence of the transformation of the global energy model, important structural changes (technological and market) related to new modes of generation are expected. renewable energy (wind energy, solar thermal energy, wave energy) and the processes related to its distribution, such as storage technologies and electrical distribution networks, in particular, smart networks (see Energibasque Strategy).

Obviously, this smart specialization process will be successful in the Basque Country if it manages to add the maximum number of large and small companies that have or can develop capacities in this field for which the ADLs, by their Proximity and knowledge of the local productive fabric, have a clear competitive advantage. Advantage that must be taken advantage of to identify capabilities and facilitate joint work between local SMEs and leading companies in the Territory or outside it. Likewise, the in-depth knowledge of its territorial scope, its proximity to the set of agents and, in particular, to the Local Administration are characteristics of the ADLs that must be taken advantage of to facilitate the implementation in their territory of emblematic investments in the field of transformation. of the energy model.

Thus, energy emerges as a renewed vector for the development strategy of a region. Well, in addition to the expected energy dividend that translates into energy savings, it also results in a clear environmental dividend with improvements in the quality of life and the health of people (who breathe cleaner air) and a definitive economic dividend with the opening of new opportunities for entrepreneurs and companies capable of taking advantage of the demand for new products and services related to the transformation of the global energy model to create employment and well-being.

by Inaki Barredo