In March, April and May 2021, interviews were conducted with municipalities and energy experts in an attempt to identify the main barriers confronting municipalities in the Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plans (SECAP) adoption and implementation process.

7 city representatives from Tallinn (EE), Tartu (EE), Cakovec (HR), Prelog (HR), Ajka (HU), Budaörs (HU), and Chorzele (PL) were first interviewed via survey monkey and then in person. Their experiences revealed that in the whole SECAP process:

  • Some municipalities consulted other municipalities in their countries, others worked with consultants.
  • It is easier to exert influence at local level rather than national level.
  • Cities do not agree on whether the SEAP/SECAP targets can be reached.
  • Support of a local energy agency is very useful.
  • Interviewees stressed the importance of involving stakeholders.
  • Political will varies from country to county.
  • Access to finance is a recurrent problem.
  • Lack of know-how and human resources are major barriers.
  • Data collection and monitoring are key challenges across the board.
  • The problems faced in all four countries are similar.
  • Resistance appears greatest in Estonia where awareness levels appear especially low.

Next, 19 surveys were conducted with energy experts from energy agencies and institutes. Distribution: CZ 5, PL 2, RO 3, EE 1, HR 3, SI 1, HU 3, LV 1. These interviews revealed that:

  • There is some concern that cities may only be adopting SECAPs since these are financed by an EU project and they are not doling this out of genuine interest.
  • Energy costs and GDP play a significant role in determining whether SECAPs are pursued or not.
  • The general identity of a city is also of great importance.
  • Cities tend to copy each other and SECAPs can sometimes be a “trend”.
  • Greater awareness raising on the benefits of SECAPs is essential to increase their popularity.
  • Access to data and insufficient funds are major barriers.
  • The targets are difficult to meet for some municipalities.
  • The SECAP methodology is seen as a highly complex.
  • There is a language barrier as not all municipalities can work in English.
  • Competing strategies exist in a number of countries making it difficult to choose.
  • Funds should be coupled to the adoption of a SECAP (this means that only SECAP holders will be able to access certain funds).

This data was analysed and then integrated into the CEESEU bootcamp training materials, which took place from the 8th to the 10th of June on “How to Develop Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plans (SECAP)”.The interviews made it possible to better tailor the content to the needs and knowledge levels of the participants. Throughout the project, CEESEU will work with municipalities to try and overcome the barriers mentioned in the interviews and make SECAPs more accessible.