The potential of renewable energies for heating and cooling is still largely unexploited in the EU. The European Commission is seriously committed to promoting the use of these energy sources and technologies, as demonstrated by the Renewable Energy Directive (Binding National Targets, National Renewable Energy Action Plans) and the Energy Efficiency Directive (Art. 14, the need to exploit RES H/C potential and develop heating markets at the local and regional levels). In this framework, regions and municipalities play a crucial role with regard to the enhancement of planning procedures, one of the main challenges to renewable energy growth. However, regional and local public administrators require targeted support to improve their planning and governance capabilities. To this end, the RES H/C Spread project provides assistance and support to regional and local public administrators.

RES H/C Spread

Running from 2014 to 2016, the RES H/C SPREAD project has developed six regional pilot plans in the field of heating and cooling with renewable energies, in order to harmonize baselines and therefore allow better policy planning. The project involves six pilot regions (Castilla y Leon in Spain, Emilia Romagna in Italy, Salzburg in Austria, Riga in Latvia, Western Macedonia in Greece and Rhodope in Bulgaria) representing the main climatic zones in Europe, primarily in the Mediterranean area. These pilot regions have benefitted from procedural and methodological support in developing their own plans for the optimal use of renewable energy for heating and cooling. Special attention has been devoted to improving participatory governance, enabling the collaboration of regional and national stakeholders. In each region, the project has established Country Governance Committees to support the plans’ implementation and to help regional authorities, key stakeholders and citizen representatives reach consensus. The plans have been developed in accordance with the regional demand for heating and cooling and with Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) requirements: “to optimize the utilization of locally available residual and waste sources of heat, cooling and RES through the use of district heating & cooling networks in areas of sufficient heat and cooling demand.” In the long term, it is hoped that the project’s outputs will support the establishment of regional plans in additional areas, by providing an example of best practices for guidance, procedures and planning methods.


  • Provision of RES H/C development plans for six European pilot regions: the plans have been harmonized with local Sustainable Energy Action Plan (SEAP) targets and are consistent with national strategies and policies, in order to serve as pilot cases for wider diffusion at the regional and national level.
  • Creation of permanent “Country Governance Committees” in each of the participating regions to provide guidance to policymakers, contribute to plan development, assess and monitor the plan’s implementation and raise consensus and awareness among the stakeholders involved. These governance committees are made up of representatives of local, regional and national administrations and market actors in the regions involved.
  • Approval of the regional plans by the relevant regional authorities participating in the Country Governance Committees, by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the implementation of RES H/C plans at the policy level.
  • Production of general methodological and procedural guidance to help regional authorities map the H/C demand and supply potential within their territories, and to match demand and offer through a cost-benefit analysis in order to meet Energy Efficiency Directive (with specific reference to Art. 14) and Renewable Energies Directive requirements.