Find out what Örebro Region is doing to promote investments in Photovoltaics for small and medium – sizes enterprises that allow to decrease GHG emsissions and at the same time increase profitability.
Solar power is still a minor source of energy in Sweden, with a photovoltaic electricity production estimated to less than 1 percent of the final electricity consumption. The project The future is solar aims to increase investments in PV with the objective that the East Middle Sweden region will be leading in Sweden regarding installed capacity both in total and per capita.
The future is solar (Swedish: Framtidens solel) is a project to promote investments in photovoltaics (PV) for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). These enterprises is a group where the investment rate so far has been lower than in other groups, but that has big advantages with solar power. The production curve for solar power often concur with the electricity consumption in enterprises, as they operate during daytime. Since sustainability is a question of increasing importance for the business world, as well as the rest of society, the solar power investment is also something that will increase the enterprises’ competitiveness and may be used for green marketing. This project aims to show these advantages and through the increased installations contribute to decreased greenhouse gas emissions and increased profitability for enterprises in the region.
The project is a cooperation project carried out in the region East Middle Sweden, which is made up from five counties. The work group is composed of actors from these five counties; county administrative boards, regions, regional energy agencies and other relevant organizations. The project is financed partly from the European regional development fund, partly from the participating organization, and partly through co-funding in time spent in the project by municipalities in the project geography.
The project’s activities could be divided into two main parts:
The project is based on seven modules or themes regarding solar power, the first five connected to activities for SMEs (part 1) and the last two directed at the surrounding structures (part 2). These modules enables the activities in the project to be governed by needs and decided along the project time while still keeping to the decided track, as all activities are connected to these modules. This way, the project is flexible enough to address the current needs and trends but also follow a clear direction and purpose.
The first important approach in the project is promoting investment through increasing knowledge about solar power for SMEs. This is accomplished for example through organizing seminars, producing information material or providing information on the project website.
A success factor that we have seen in this project is to aim our efforts towards a specific trade of enterprises at a time. For example, in the fall 2019 we organized a seminar tour focusing on the agricultural sector. For this tour, we contacted local actors that had an established network with the enterprises and offered them lectures in different themes. With the local contact, we were able to reach out to the enterprises with a sender that they recognized and had confidence in. We were also able to adjust the content of the lectures so it would meet the needs of this specific target group.
The other main part in the project is working with increasing knowledge for other actors and reducing barriers for PV installations. In this part, activities are directed at the surrounding structures around SMEs such as organizations that support enterprises, business networks and municipalities. Through increasing knowledge for those who work with the enterprises, the enterprises can get help with their installation and more enterprises will be informed about the possibility and benefits.
In this part, we also work with reducing barriers for the enterprises. As these barriers may also coincide with barriers for other groups, this might benefit a larger group of prospective solar power producers as a side effect. As an example for this, we have analysed the impact from the regulatory framework in Sweden on PV installations for SMEs. A potential next step in this could be to establish an informal international network and share experiences with other regional energy agencies. This way, several organizations with an interest to work with influencing the legal framework for PV installations can cooperate and together work for better conditions for solar power all over Europe.
Since the project started in 2015, almost 1000 enterprises have taken part in the different activities arranged within the project. The project evaluations show that approximately one fourth of the participating enterprises had invested in PV after an event. This number is, however, likely to be higher if the evaluations had been carried out later as some enterprises take their time to consider an investment.
We believe that the long-term effect of our work is not limited to only participants in our activities, nor only to enterprises as a group. The so-called snowball effect is something that is easily recognized when it comes to solar power, where it is often seen that one PV installation will result in more installations in the neighbouring area. As information and inspiration from our activities continues to spread through word-of-mouth, this will contribute to a higher level of knowledge about solar power more widely in society and thereby more investments in PV in general.
We consider this project, along with many others, to play an important role in the objective to achieve a hundred percent fossil-free electricity generation in Sweden in 2040. In this spring, the project group had to re-think and to come up with alternative ways of spreading information when physical meetings were no longer possible. This has resulted in an exciting journey with several arranged webinars, for example discussing how municipalities can work with targets and strategies to increase PV investments among their citizens and enterprises. The region East Middle Sweden is now in fact in the top regarding installed capacity in Sweden, but our work for more installed PV will continue with non-decreasing enthusiasm and commitment.
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