There are three strategic levels for successful energy planning in cities: 1) Integration strategy for integrating energy planning into urban planning institutions; 2) Practice strategy for developing suitable energy planning practices in urban planning institutions, and 3) Vision strategy for the creation and integration of energy visions and scenarios required for long-term decarbonisation. The vision strategy is critical but not well researched and is the focus of this article. Using Strategic Energy Planning (SEP) as an analytical framework, the vision strategy of eight forerunner European cities are analysed. Some critical elements of SEP include the use of long-term targets, holistic energy system thinking, and retention of scenarios. The results indicate that the level of understanding and practice of the vision strategy is still deficient in the cities. Cities often use the practice of urban planning, which does not fit very well with energy planning, particularly with the vision strategy. The energy planning in the cities mostly focuses on shorter-term goals and actions, and they often abandon energy scenarios once extracted. However, through trial and error, some cities are finding ways forward. The article concludes with several recommendations, particularly that cities need to see scenarios as retainable long-term servants providing information desired by the planner, rather than serving as a guide to the planner.
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