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Mārupe renewable energy festival

 

On September 18, the first Mārupe municipality conversation festival “Green, Independent and Powerful” was held (in Latvia). The event took place in the yard of Jaunmārupe Primary School and was dedicated to the development of renewable energy communities.

Focus questions included a discussion on the available solutions for green energy, whether independence can be gained from the common energy market and how common or individual production models stand in terms of profitability.

During the festival, visitors had the opportunity to listen to the experiences of residents who have already introduced renewable energy production facilities in their households.

Three seminars on solar and wind energy were given on the central stage, before TV personality Uģis Joksts took to the stage. Meanwhile, in the other pavilion, younger participants were able to learn about energy production, and even participate in a few hands-on experiments.

The festival was attended by representatives from the Solar Energy Association, the Wind Energy Association, the Alliance for Cross-Sectoral Sustainable Development, Mārupe Municipality, Christian Andersen (Germany) and others.

Middelfart hosts climate festival

Last weekend, thousands of participants attended Klimafolkemødet: Middelfart’s annual climate festival (Denmark). This meeting puts climate at the top of the agenda for three whole days, and is geared towards citizens, professionals and politicians alike.

‘Climate Action Together’ was this year’s theme and was held in cooperation with a wide range of organisers. The aim of the Climate People’s Meeting is simply to inspire action and create solutions – for decision-makers, businesses, organisations and citizens.

What started off as a local initiative, is now regarded as a national event. This edition of the Klimafolkemødet was the largest so far, with estimates of between 5,000 and 10,000 people in attendance.

Further information can be found here (in Danish): https://klimafolkemoedet.dk/

Photo: Claus Fisker/Klimafolkemødet

Invitation: Final Meeting in Denmark

On the 22. and 23. September we will host our final meeting in Denmark. Over the two days, we will hear from the six renewable energy projects who have been working within their communities to realise a diverse range of pilots. Topics will range from solar PV installation to common purchase of heat pumps to geothermal heating infrastructure.

We are looking forward to hearing the achievements and outlook of the transnational pairings between project partners and input from external stakeholders, such as the Energiakademiet on Samsø!

The event will be hybrid, with the opportunity to participate both remotely during the online sessions and in-person for project partners in Middelfart and Samsø. For online participation, please register here https://forms.gle/Cu93pvutkDaHFGxKA

 

Estonian and Finnish pairing meeting

Today we had an online pairing meeting between our Finnish and Estonian partners, with a total of 15 people participating.

Green Net Finland presented their housing development pilot in Husulanmäki, which has recently begun initial utility works. Particularly interesting was the description of how the technical and geological assessment interacted with current and future design considerations

Next up we had a presentation on the Solar PV pilot in Tartu, Estonia. The team is steaming ahead working on the technical aspects of energy capacity possibilities and assessing the legal and financial aspects of the proposed operating models.

Participants commented that it was particularly interesting to see the contrast between the two projects: one pilot will result in a renewable energy housing development which makes best use of the surrounding environmental constraints at Husulanmäki. The other, representing Estonia’s first example of an energy community initiated by a municipality.

The new and innovative directions being explored as part of this meeting set the stage for an exciting final meeting next month in Denmark!

Latvian and German partners visit projects

From the 18th to the 20th August, delegates from Riga City, Riga Energy Agency, Mārupe Municipality and Riga Planning Region (Latvia) joined representatives from the Heinrich Böll Foundation, Kiel City and Kiel University (Germany). The team from Latvia travelled to Schleswig-Holstein in Germany to take part in a three-day pairing meeting.

The first day consisted of an opening evening onboard a Kiel-based ship, with a presentation given by Kiel City about their aims towards a Climate Protection City. Themes included the Climate Protection Masterplan, the focus on community engagement, knowledge sharing and awareness building.

Day two was a field trip to visit Schleswig-Holstein’s renewable energy projects. Participants visited the small village of Sprakebüll to view their wind farm, solar park and district heating projects. This followed with a journey to the northern end of the state, with a presentation about Flensburg’s climate protection masterplan, together with the surrounding region and the local climate cooperation.
 
Solar PV and REN-district heating were given the spotlight in Hürup, with a guided walk through the village, before ending the tour in the town of Schleswig. The Stadtwerke Schleswig, a 100% community-owned public service company, showcased their cold district heating with near-surface heat collectors, ice energy storage and heat pumps.

The final day of the pairing meeting between Latvia and Germany saw the site visits continue, with a visit to Wiemersdorf (Schleswig-Holstein, Germany). Here, team members were able to visit a community-powered wind farm and a carbon sink by recharging humus.

Danish partner gets featured on national TV

Our Danish partners were recently featured on the prime time broadcasting network DR, with the Climate Minister being addressed directly. Around 650,000 viewers tuned in.
 
The 20-minute discussion demonstrated how many renewable energy projects are exposed to “NIMBY” (Not In My Back Yard) attitudes. The Minister is very aware of the importance of improving processes and discussing future pathways for “Yes In My Back Yard” renewable energy projects.
Sol-over-Brenderup, the community energy project we presented to you earlier, was also featured. Here local initiators described how citizen involvement has been essential to the success of the project, ensuring that the project is met with enthusiasm through participation.
 
Barriers to community energy were delivered to the minister by our project partner, Middelfart Municipality climate manager Morten Westergaard, who is convinced that the Danish authorities can use their positive experience with this project to make the process easier for future solar and wind energy projects.
 
Link to article (Danish), here.  And the Link to the film clip here.
 

Community energy ambitions in the city of Tartu

The city of Tartu has set ambitious goals for a full transition to renewable energy, with energy communities being seen as an efficient and appropriate way to implement these plans. Tartu city, in cooperation with the Tartu Regional Energy Agency (TREA), aims to establish the first functioning urban energy cooperatives with participation of citizens as an example for others. A recent newspaper article about these developments introduces the nature of energy cooperatives, describes different models and lists the benefits for community members and citizens in general.

Here is the link to article (in Estonian, with paywall).

Insights into the Husulanmäki Communal housing area

Our Finnish pilot project is focusing on a renewable community energy system for the new Husulanmäki Communal housing area. Located in a picturesque forest area in the vicinity of lake Lapinjärvi, it offers an enjoyable and peaceful contrast to the urban city environment. The planned housing area includes about 12 houses that will be co-constructed. How this could look like, you can see in this fantastic video – it is in Finnish, but you can gather many impressions just by watching.

Knowledge exchange at finish-estonian partner meeting

Staying with the topic of international cooperation and exchange: partners from our projects in Finland and Estonia also met last week in a webinar to report on their successes and challenges and how they might learn from each other. The Finnish partners from “Green Net Finland“ are in the process of establishing a new community in the municipality of Lapinjärvi and are currently investigating the best ways of how to provide the community with geothermal heating.

The Estonian partners from “Tartu Regional Energy Agency” (TREA) are working with the Tartu municipality to create Estonia’s first energy community through a community-owned solar PV park on the roof of an apartment building. The engagement of local municipalities provided a great base for discussion: While in Estonia, Tartu municipality is one of the main initiators of the project and the first one to do so, in Finland it is already more established for municipalities to be owners of local energy plants, and thus they’re operating mostly in a commercial interest.

Another shared issue in both projects is the profitability of investments into community energy. A recent study commissioned by Green Net Finland has shown that more energy consumption generally leads to more profitability as well as cost and CO2-emission savings, with individual heat pumps in fact being most profitable. Also TREA reports that consuming self-produced energy as opposed to selling it to the grid is more lucrative. The partners agreed that more involvement of the regional and national governments is necessary to support the further development of community energy and guarantee its profitability.

fi-est meeting

Baltic Sea Region meets North Sea Region in pairing partner meeting

Baltic Sea Region meets North Sea Region: in a webinar last week, projects from the UK and Denmark provided inspiration for co-operation between successful projects in engaging citizens towards a clean energy transition. 

Our danish project partner, Middelfart Municipality, is also part of the fellow Interreg project EMPOWER 2.0 and organised the online event. It was visited by participants from Lithuania, the UK, Germany and Denmark.

The two solar energy projects “Solar Together Essex”, which coordinates group-buying schemes for rooftop solar panels, and “Sol over Brenderup”, a community energy project, have both realized about 1MW of solar installations and plan to expand in the future. The representatives spoke about their project’s story, success and challenges. Unsurprisingly, with the UK project taking a top-down and the Danish taking a bottom-up approach, the initiators face different challenges along the way.

Citizens from the village Brenderup (DK) presented tips and tricks on how they successfully established their own solar park. The presentation was a good example of a YIMBY way (Yes In My BackYard). One of the project founders stated that financing and all the applications surrounding the project were the big challenges in the beginning. Equally, acquiring all the relevant knowledge as someone new to the field was time consuming and dependent on intermediaries, such as Middelfart Municipality.

The presentation from Essex county (UK), also part of EMPOWER, demonstrated how citizens can make their own collective group purchase of solar PV on their own rooftops, as collective action. You could say this was a YOMRT way (Yes On My Roof Top). Conversely, the challenge to “Solar Together Essex” is reaching potential buyers. In their experience, the more personal, but also more expensive, targeted letter resulted in higher response rate, when compared to giving out leaflets.