The next Estonian RENCOP seminar was held in Tartu, Estonia on 4th of December 2019. 20 participants from mainly South-Estonian regions attended representing potential CE initiatives, apartment associations, NGOs, local stakeholders, and local municipalities.
The first part of the seminar was about community energy, the steps carried out so far in this field in Estonia, the Co2mmunity project and the RENCOP approach as well as good examples of CE in Estonia and neighbouring countries (Germany, Denmark, Finland).
The core topic of the first part was about renewable energy communities, the amended renewable energy directive, and the adoption of Estonian law from a national point of view presented by the Energy department of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communication.
The second interactive part of the seminar was dedicated to the CE country specific handbook (developed under the Co2mmunity project). Responsible experts introduced the nature, content and main topics of the handbook. Following the handbook, main topics under common discussion were:
- main current obstacles, what specifically prevents you from setting up a community energy project?
- what would be solutions?
- what can municipalities do to support community renewable energy projects?
- other hot local practical topics related to energy cooperatives (how to distribute produced energy internally within community, maintenance, CE in rural areas etc).
Results and findings from the discussion will be reflected during upcoming seminars and meetings. Some information will be used in the handbook under development. Activities agreed upon during the discussion will be implemented.
At least one additional expert joined the Estonian expert-driven RENCOP.
Co2mmunity has been presented at the annual meeting of Estonian eco-communities on 12th January 2019 by Ülo Kask from the Tartu Renewable Energy Agency (TREA). The photo shows Ülo Kask during his presentation of Co2mmunity, the RENCOP model and the opportunities for eco-communities to engage the topic. (photo by Paavo Eensalu)
Additionally, TREA has published an article in the Estonian Biomass Association’s annual magazine ‘Combustible and non-combustible energy resources 2018/2019‘. The article is in Estoniana and the whole issue is published on the homepage of the Estonian Biomass Association (external link).
In December 2018, two Tartu Regional Energy Agency (TREA) employees met with five community members of Mõisamaa village of a Väike Jalajälg, which translates to “small footprint” community. Mõisamaa village is a RENCOP community and is one of ten communities taking part in the mentorship program within Estonia. The ERDF funded Estonian Energy Cooperatives Mentor Programme supports Estonian start-ups and their development through workshops, peer-to-peer learning, and mentorship programs. The community is home to 20 people, and they are currently exploring alternative forms for the community’s future energy production and consumption. It is for this reason that TREA visited them. This informal meeting was a way for community members to establish initial contact and trust and for the TREA employees, and for the TREA employees to gather a preliminary understanding of the community’s day-to-day activities.
Currently all buildings in Mõisamaa are locally heated by boilers and regular wood logs stoves totalling 28 stoves, with electricity being provided by the public grid. The community’s vision is to replace oil boilers with more sustainable solutions, varying from building renovations, to PV stations, to bio-gas. TREA will be working with the community to develop the best solutions to satisfy their energy needs.
Mõisamaa’s main motivations and drivers for a community energy project is to reduce their energy costs and to become independent from energy imports and the public grid. As per the discussions, the community can also envision selling their sustainably generated energy to close neighbours, however this is not their primary goal.
A follow up meeting will take place in mid December for TREA to gather energy consumption data on the eco-village. The meeting will be with both citizens and farmers, along with any other interested and potential buyers. More information regarding the small footprint community can be found at http://vaikejalajalg.ee/en/