H eidelberg is a German frontrunner on energy and climate issues. The city aims to become climate neutral by 2050, and in 2019 it was one of the first cities in the country to declare a climate emergency. In part in response to this climate emergency declaration, Heidelberg passed its Climate Action Plan, complementing the city’s 2014 masterplan for 100% climate protection.

The Climate Action Plan sets out 30 actions for the city to achieve its climate protection goal. These actions include a focus on energy-efficient buildings and on renovation of old building stock; passive house standards and renewable energy requirements for new neighbourhoods; scaling up renewables in district heating and the municipal power utility; improving public transport and increasing green spaces; and sustainable consumption.


Despite facing challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic, Heidelberg was able to realise several of these actions in 2020. Since early in the year, the municipal district heating network has run on 50% renewable energy, with the goal of achieving climate-neutral district heating and phasing out the use of coal by 2030. In addition, the city aims to produce a third of its heating capacity locally by 2025.

Due to land scarcity within Heidelberg, in 2020 the municipal utility started co-operating with utilities in other municipalities to expand the city’s solar PV and wind power supply. Thanks to this co-operation, Heidelberg plans to achieve its goal of adding 25 MW of renewables by 2030, with an interim goal of 14 MW by 2024.

To further scale up solar PV within city boundaries, in late 2020 the city council passed a policy to provide financial support for distributed solar PV on all residential and commercial buildings (up to EUR 250, or USD 307, per kW-peak, depending on the building size and type). In addition, the city government passed a mandate requiring solar PV on all new buildings built on municipal plots, and requiring it on existing buildings in some neighborhoods. With this mandate, Heidelberg joins other German cities such as Amberg, Freiburg, Hamburg, Konstanz and Waiblingen that have similar solar PV requirements.

To decarbonise the transport sector, Heidelberg has joined the C40 Fossil Fuel-Free Streets Declaration and pledged to reduce the number of polluting vehicles on its streets and to transition away from fossil fuel vehicles. The city offers financial support for hydrogen vehicles as well as electric and hybrid vehicles. In 2020, the municipal utility started building up EV charging infrastructure throughout Heidelberg. To further support decarbonisation, the city also has expanded bike infrastructure and bike parking facilities.

Source: See endnote 126 in the Urban Policy Landscape chapter.