Energy planning in Castilla y Léon

District heating in Spain – Learning from good and bad practice


A central theme for the INTENSSS-PA Regional Living Lab in Castilla y León is district heating. While this type of energy has existed for many years it is a rather new source of energy in Spain.

Castilla y León is an independent region in the north-western part of Spain. The region is characterized by its low density compared with its wide extension, which leaves a population of merely 26 people per km2. The landscape mainly consists of massive rural areas of forestry that can be exploited to produce biomass. Based on this, the RLL in Castilla y León has a special focus on optimizing and improving the use of sustainable energy in urban areas, notably, the generation of heat through biomass and distribution at district scale.

A special focus on district heating

In relation to the special focus on district heating the RLL is aiming at developing a guideline for how sustainable district heating can be implemented and adapted in urban areas. The guidelines are not only directed at the region, but also intended to serve as a set of guidelines that can lead the implementation of district heating in other Spanish regions.

So far, the RLL has designated five general themes which should be taken into account when implementing district heating: improvement of regulatory framework; guidance for energy projects; spatial planning strategies; good practice of governance for management of projects; actions of communication and participation.

The INTENSSS-PA project is based on the idea of collaborative work across sectional sustainable energy planning.

“All stakeholders are able to openly explain how they understand the issue and we openly discuss possible solutions. It is very interesting to be enlightened by people from different fields of the energy planning sectors.”

Begoña Gonzalo Orden from the Municipality of León, Member of  the Spanish RLL

Added value 

When the INTENSSS-PA was commenced in Castilla y León the regional planning was not integrated and there was a low level of understanding and collaboration between spatial planning and energy planning. This resulted in a low focus on planning requirements for sustainable energy issues.

Sergio Cantero Celada, Architect and Urban planner from the INTENSS-PA PA partner IUU, states that there are two levels of learning when working in a RLL – the national and the international level. At the national level he states that the RLL approach has given a possibility for gathering people from different fields with different knowledge to work together as a team.

Further, Sergio explains that the collaboration is so well functioning in Castilla y León that it will continue after the end of the project. On the international level, the RLL has also experienced a positive exchange of knowledge especially because the collaborative approach makes it possible to learn from both good and bad practices.

Energy planning in the Regional Living Labs

The INTENSS-PA action has developed a network of seven Regional Living Labs (RLL), one in each of  the seven Regional areas participating in the project.

The RLLs are focused on improving and designing a shared and integrated sustainable energy planning concept and on applying it in order to develop seven sustainable energy plans, i.e. one for each Region. The overall approach involves learning sessions and experiential projects alongside intense networking.

Each RLL has worked on  a particular planning focus identifying their ambitions in relation to a long-term process of integrated  sustainable energy planning.

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