Date: 24 – 25th October – Location: Atelier 29, Brussels, Belgium
An energy-efficiency forum to advance the European energy transition.
During two days in October, 7 European-funded projects came together for a knowledge exchange to share key findings, lessons learned, best practices, and insightful debate. There were discussions, high-level panels, a poster session and ending with a field visit to an energy community in Brussels.
Day 1 – societal trends, energy behaviours and multiple impacts.
The first day kicked-off with a keynote speech by Nives Della Valle (European Commission, Joint Research Centre), who began by addressing the urgent need to take action and highlighted the need for everybody to become a protagonist in our shared climate story. Securing a clean and just energy transition means we need to take everyone on board. With that key challenge in mind, project representatives from newTRENDS, NUDGE and MICAT presented their research findings. Future energy demand models and trends were presented, as were effective nudging methods for energy usage.
First to take the stage was newTrends, who began proceedings by zooming out on the bigger picture and presented their findings on the new societal trends that will influence future energy demand. On a different level, NUDGE zoomed in on behavioural science techniques or nudges to alter consumer behaviour and reduce individual energy consumption. Anne Kesselring presented the project’s results and emphasised the need for nudging to take place within a supportive policy framework. MICAT showcased their multiple impacts calculation tool, which provides everyone with the ability to quantify and monetize multiple impacts for any given scenario or policy.
The second part of the session discussed the way forward for energy policy and how to apply the project findings. Reaching future climate neutrality targets requires a fair comparison of the impacts of energy saving, ensuring that the principle of energy efficiency first is implemented at all policy levels and removing the barriers consumers currently face in energy-saving decisions. We need to increase energy efficiency, while ensuring the transition is inclusive. Choosing a decarbonization pathway where everybody can benefit and is the least costly for society is key for success.
Day 2 – a bright future for energy communities.
The main theme throughout the two days was how to make the energy transition as inclusive as possible? Designing solutions with people and actively involving them in decision-making is crucial to get citizens on board with energy-saving measures. In his keynote speech, Tadhg O’Briain (European Commission) underlined the vital role of energy community projects in delivering the energy transition.
Projects focused on issues such as gender equality in the renewable energy sector (W4RES), developing community bio-energy potential (BECoop), uplifting communities via one-stop shops (UP-STAIRS), and facilitating peer-to-peer residential energy communities (NRG2PEERS).
Energy communities offer consumers a better way to meet their needs, and speakers emphasized that more should be done to increase their uptake. To do this, we need to break down the simple barriers that are faced by citizens, particularly women and energy-poor households. On top of this, there is a need to create more awareness of community energy in the wider public. Disseminating clear guidelines on energy communities and promoting them in a simple way were some solutions offered by speakers.
Coffee waste, a floating community, a one-stop-shop, and a hydrogen start-up!
During the second day, not only was key research presented, but real world examples were showcased. The spotlight was placed on how the projects had gone into the world and created a positive impact. Attendees got to see how the seeds planted by the projects are already bearing fruit.
The conference ended on a high and bright note, with a visit to the SunSed energy community in a social housing project in the heart of Brussels. Practitioners showed what is possible when a community works together to meet their energy needs, an inspiring example of community power.
During the two days, it was clear that the energy transition needs to be driven by policymakers creating supportive measures that empower citizens and communities to be agents of change. The process is already underway, as demonstrated by the projects and the vision and commitment of the people involved.
Open below teaser video in YouTube to access the full event recording playlist!