Where do we stand, where do we go: a brief mid-term progress report
All partners of 100% RES Communities consortium met in Vienna (Austria) on 24-25 October 2013. The opportunity to draw a brief mid-term progress report of lessons learnt until now and define the next steps of a successful European cooperation.
Rural regions in the Covenant of Mayors framework
One of the key objectives of the action is to establish a connection between active “rural regions” (coordinated groups of small rural towns) and the European framework set by the Covenant of Mayors (CoM), originally designed for large cities and urban areas. The diversity of rural regions associated to project partners in 9 different countries is a chance to test many new ways for small communities to engage in the Covenant of Mayors movement and create several precedents. Hopefully, if the negotiations between these regions and the European stakeholders are successful, the project consortium and the Covenant of Mayors Office could promote them as exemplary cases that can be followed. This would open the way to new types of candidatures and eventually enlarge (for real) the scope of the CoM to a new target group: rural regions.
Promoting a pragmatic approach adapted to rural regions
The project rationale did not include a specific work on elaborating new tools for baseline emissions inventory (BEI) and sustainable energy action plan (SEAP) elaboration. However, some partners expressed difficulties to identify and select existing tools able to fulfil their actual needs (regional dimension, rural specificities). No suitable existing standard methodology has been identified yet on the Covenant of Mayors website (and others). What is the situation on the ground? Even when they manage to hire the necessary experts in common at an appropriate level (total population between 10 000 to 100 000 inhabitants), rural regions hardly manage to access quality data on energy. Therefore, no detailed initial evaluation is deemed relevant to start concrete actions. Getting a rough estimate of the overall energy consumption is enough to realise what is at stake when engaging to become 100% renewable: “when you want to fly to Australia, you don’t need to know the prize of a metro ticket in Sydney”, Sophie Merle, director of AILE (local energy agency specialised on biomass issues), explains.
Check the distance, set your mind, get your boots and walk!
This is why Solagro, in partnership with CLER, designed a simplified tool, in the format of a table inspired by official CoM templates. Learning rural regions can use it as a back-up opportunity to get a panoramic view on how much is to be done quickly. Moreover, experienced rural regions also proceed to the testing of this tool, comparing its results to their own existing evaluation. As soon as the main lessons from this test phase will be drawn, the tool will be released together with its user manual (as light as the tool) including guidelines, conditions of use and warnings.
Eventually, the project team will issue methodological guidelines on SEAP development in rural regions that will be widely disseminated. To be continued!