After 3 years of intense work and before stopping its activities, the EU funded DECIDE project organized an event with the objective of presenting the state of art and discussing with a wide set of stakeholders its main findings on how collective energy actions can meaningful support advancing the energy transition.
The one day event, officially labelled as energy day event of the European Sustainable Energy Week took place in Brussels on the 19th June, saw the participation of a great set of speakers and participants who engaged in deep conversations on topics such as rethinking the participation of youth, potential collaboration with service providers that can facilitate the set up and management of initiatives, the different ways for engaging local communities, the elements to consider to build a business model for a self-sustained initiative and the transforming relation between the traditional market actors and the new entities on the rise.
Opened by Adela TESAROVA Head of Unit at DG ENER who stressed the relevance of the event in help the institutions in having a reality check and better understanding of the policies currently implemented and how to improve them, and Ulfert Hoehne, CEO and co-founder of OurPower cooperative, a DECIDE pilots, who took us through the history of his cooperative and how it overcome the many difficulties including the COVID outbreak first and the energy crisis following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
In the first roundtable, after hearing positive experiences from Estonia, Greece and Belgium, we discussed the still existing social barriers that prevents many people to join collective energy actions to democratize information, the collaboration of all sectors and the potential of youth not only as inspiration to shape new policies and approaches but also as young expert that can pragmatically support speeding up the transition in the short term (eg. On IoT and data). Also, youth are among the segment of the population that suffer from energy poverty.
Bearing in mind that the economic motivation is often the one that moves individuals to consider investing in RES it should be clear the value of collective energy actions that moving beyond individual profit-making, prioritizes societal well-being and environmental sustainability. Local ownership is fundamental to ensure commitment.
In the second roundtable we heard from the DECIDE pilots and DECIDERs in Czech Republic, Germany and Belgium and discuss with panellist what are existing barriers to engagement and how those can be overcome. The possibility to make the initial investment remains a problem, although a business case (for PVs) is there given the short return in investments. The key enables mentioned were the need for a convincing narrative that will move a behavioural change and a stronger support from the national governments. The fact that energy is perceived as a too complex topic to deal with create a sense of distrust and here municipalities as well as youth were pointed as possible facilitator together with the proposal to have a participatory approach to information creation and sharing. The particularity of urban setting was also mentioned, and energy sharing in this context seems to be a great opportunity. Regarding the gender balance in collective energy actions, it was pointed to the lack of specific communication and engagement expertise that can facilitate this process.
The thematic breakout groups that followed gave the opportunities to hear real experiences from the 7 DECIDE pilots as well as some of the many DECIDERs, initiatives that closely followed the project activities and have them exchanging directly with peers and experts from all around Europe.
Natasha Kouskouni, DG REGIO, Piero de Bonis, Policy officer, DG RTD and Fréderic-Michael Foeteler on behalf of CEER closed the day in a dialogue that aimed at enlarging the perspective and include different angles from which to look at energy, highlighting the importance of maintaining an open and constructive dialogue between all stakeholders to find the best solutions possible.
Have a look at the slides of the day here
See the pictures of the event here
Check our booklet, where the key achievements of DECIDE are summarised!