On 5 December 2023, ASCEND and NEUTRALPATH project co-organised a webinar titled “Business Models and Financing for PCEDs”. The webinar served as a platform for various projects to discuss challenges, share experiences and explore innovative solutions - as there is no “one-fit-all” business model for a successful Positive Clean Energy District.

Here are a couple of takeaways:

All city stakeholders, including citizens, must actively contribute to the objective of climate neutrality. Citizens have the power to create the demand for climate-neutral projects. Acknowledging the contribution citizens can make and the responsibility they hold, is an important step towards transforming cities.

It is necessary to blend traditional instruments with innovative options to foster funds to be invested in PCED projects. However, it is also important to understand what the reality of these innovative financing instruments is - how realistic is it to quickly switch to other instruments?

Smart cities hinge on connectivity and interoperability. Thus, addressing the "up-scaling elephant in the room" involves establishing robust connections between solutions. Cities need to set frameworks, moderate, and mediate to embed business models effectively within their ecosystems. ASCEND’s Urban Orchestrator plays a central role in connecting the dots and ensuring coordination and scalability. 

ASCEND’s goal is not just to deliver solutions but to deploy and scale their adoption intentionally. Interviews with cities have revealed that they already possess business models (even if they often don’t call it that way), and the challenge is to make them aware of their potential impact. Cities need to recognise their existing business models and explore alternative funding avenues.

ASCEND would like to thank everyone who participated and shared their insights.