Brussels: Where people meet and ideas emerge

Brussels: Where people meet and ideas emerge

© World Future Council.

Published by Pia Buschmann on 20/03/2014

One central element of the project “100%RES Communities” is a mentoring/twinning process between learning and experienced territories.
For Germany, the municipality group Aller-Leine-Valley has been selected as experienced region. The certified energy region, which is composed of eight communities, is located in Lower Saxony and is known for its ambitious renewable energy (RE) projects.  During many years of cooperation, these communities have already achieved 100% RE in the electricity sector, set some remarkable milestones on sustainable mobility and now pave the way for relevant pilot projects to increase the share of RE in heat generation. The learning partner is the Belgium Province of Luxembourg, the southernmost region in Wallonia. At the beginning of the project, this twinning pair was created because of a couple of similarities between them: The Province of Luxembourg for example seeks to learn how to strengthen political will and the mobilization of RE stakeholders within its territory. This is something the German region has collected many experiences. Apart from that, also topological characteristics (large forestal areas, existing hydropower) brought the two together.

The twinning process on the development and evaluation of the territories Sustainable Energy Action Plans (SEAPs) has been officially launched during a first kick-off meeting in Libin, Belgium, in January 2013. Here political leaders from the partnering territories initially met and discussed cooperation options. They were supported by deENet and Innergies as project performers. It was agreed that a study visit to Germany should be organized soon. The regional decision-makers shared the view to take part in twinning actions whenever possible.   For a day-to-day basis (e.g. scheduling and conceptualizing events/ study tours) and in case of indisposition for travel and coordination meetings, deENet and Innergies were chosen to act on behalf of the two regions.

German and Belgium twins catching-up on each other’s 100%RES measures

In order to prepare the study tour of the Province of Luxembourg to the Aller-Leine-Valley, scheduled for late 2013, a coordination meeting took place a couple of weeks earlier during the in Brussels The Belgian capital became a top spot for face-2-face appointments, since it is the home place of Innergies and deENet on behalf of the Aller-Leine-Tal took part in the open days of cities and regions (7th – 10th October 2013), gathering useful ideas and inspirations on financing mechanisms and capacity building measures for the SEAP-activities of the twinning territories.

The input from the “open days” sessions contributed to a productive atmosphere during the partners´ discussion. Issues on the agenda were:

  • the learning territory’s expectations regarding the study tour and reflecting upon the questions:
    How did the twin regions` plans evolve respectively since the kick-off event in Libin?
    Which 100%RES activities and tools run by the Aller-Leine-Valley should be focused on during the study tour?
  • potential future steps for the period after the study tour (mid-term twinning perspectives)

Key experience: Study Visit to Aller-Leine-Valley

The true value of this meeting was revealed during thesuccessful study tour in Aller-Leine-Valley in December 2013 (for a detailed report on the study visit click here), whose ideas were partly developed in Brussels.
It can be taken as a good sign the next twinning meeting was scheduled in Brussels again in March 2014. Just like the year before, a wider context was found – creating an enhanced benefit for both regions. This time the partners joined  the parliamentary hearing “Building Political Will for 100% Renewable Energy” (19th – 21th March 2014) on behalf of the Aller-Leine-Tal

Before this highlight event described below, Innergies and deENet reviewed conclusions of the study tour and remaining issues to prepare the up-coming twinning activities.

Relevant results:

  • For the province de Luxembourg, the study tour to Aller-Leine-Valley provided useful and transferrable experience on how to raise citizens’ and stakeholders’ awareness and regional identity with local RE projects. The most prominent flagship project discussed for transfer to Belgium is the Germans` renewable energy-cycling route (http://www.aller-leine-tal-navigator.de/ ). The innovative project is composed of 44 stations that offer cyclists information about all sorts of activities and buildings, or access to lectures and guided tours that are related to renewable energies in the region.
  • An important open question that remained for the learning territory is how to significantly enhance energy efficiency in the building sector. To create an innovative project that is able to mobilize stakeholders in this area has become a prior topic in the Province’s SEAP.
  • The study tour also pointed out that some achievements of Aller-Leine-Valley would not be transferred to Belgium straight away. The different political structure and population size of the twins could make an upscaling process necessary.
  • Future plans: Innergies, deENet got the French partner CLER involved for a second study tour of the Belgium learning territory to Biovallée in France. The Biovallée offers profound expertise in connecting craftsmen and house owners for housing renovation (click here for more information on the Dorémi-project). This project was expected to give the learning region another view on stakeholder mobilization in the building sector. Housing renovation belongs to the areas of interest in the Province of Luxembourg with a growing meaning. The Aller-Leine-Valley, however, has no advanced experience in this field.

Building Political will on 100%RE: European 100%RES Communities are taking the lead

As mentioned, the partners used the stay in Brussels again to create synergies to other events. This time deENet reported on achievements of the Aller-Leine-Tal, its twinning activities and the 100%RES Communities project to an international audience composed of Members of European Parliament, RE experts, leading organizations and think tanks working on 100%RE.
The hearing was hosted by the World Future Council, a cooperation partner of the 100%RES-project, the Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht and EURORES. The meeting brought together policy-makers to learn about concrete tools and international networks that enhance implementation of 100%RES. Click here to retrieve the agenda. About 50 persons joint the meeting, among them Rebecca Harms (MEP),  Maciej Nowicki (Former Environment Minister of Poland), Anders Wijkman (co-president of the Club of Rome) and Fiona Hall (MEP). The international audience showed great interest into the tools and activities implemented by the 100%RES Communities-project. Once more the best-practices and case studies from le Méne, Aller-Leine-Valley, and Kněžice proved to be useful and inspiring to the young members of the global 100%RE community.