Islands are not only among the favourite holiday destinations in Europe – they also hold the key to making the EU’s clean energy transition a success. The remoteness and, at times, vulnerable access to resources from the mainland, along with the effects of climate change, force islands to be creative and bold in finding solutions for their transition to a sustainable energy system and economy. As outlined in its 2050 long-term strategy, Europe is pursuing the systemic transformation of its energy system in order to become a prosperous, modern, competitive and climate-neutral economy.
In the European Union, rural areas face specific challenges as a result of global trends and further enhanced by the economic crisis. These challenges include an ageing population, high unemployment rates, social disparities and the lack of adaptive potential to the global market. Although rural and sparsely populated areas supply most of the EU’s renewable energy, they also face the most challenges regarding lack of infrastructure. Therefore, these communities might be at risk of energy poverty. FEDARENE supports energy communities which empower citizens, giving them a voice through combining democratic governance with aims to meet social and economic needs of its members and the local community.
FEDARENE’s Islands & Rural Communities Working Group is chaired by our Vice-President Kostas Komninos with the support of Simone Lowthe-Thomas, Vice-President for Citizen Energy Communities.
“With the European Green Deal well in place islands have a real incentive to kick-start their clean energy transition now, reap the benefits that come with it and act as lighthouses of Europe’s climate-neutral future.”Kostas Komninos, Vice-President for Smart and Sustainable Islands
“Islands and rural communities offer both unique challenges and opportunities in the energy transition. Often, rural communities suffer from Fuel Poverty because of remoteness, lack of infrastructure, lower incomes and higher energy costs because the houses are often inefficient and hard to treat. Local energy models as well as innovative heating solutions must be a priority in rural communities to close the inequality gap and meet net-carbon zero targets in an integrated way.”Simone Lowthe-Thomas, Vice-President for Citizen Energy Communities
Climact Regions: ClimAct Regions will improve the capacity of regions to build and apply greenhouse gases reduction policies, in order to contribute to climate protection. The main objective brings in 2 more specific objectives: enable regions to efficiently monitor and observe greenhouse gases & develop regional policies for greenhouse gas mitigation using good governance processes.
SERVE: The project has triggered an investment of €8.5m in sustainable energy actions in North Tipperary. 400 buildings have been upgraded, 500 individual renewable energy heating systems installed, 50 Eco Buildings constructed, 2 district heating systems and 2MW of biomass heating systems installed.
Yenesis: Targetting high unemployment rates suffered by Islands throughout the year, and especially during non-tourist periods. The projects main objective is to reduce unemployment of young people between 25-29 by creating green jobs in islands in the four areas of renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainable transport and mobility.
Interreg MED Pegasus: The innovative approach of PEGASUS (Promoting Effective Generation and Sustainable USes of electricity) is focused on experimenting a simulation of functioning of microgrids in 7 pilot areas jointly; solutions will be based on concrete situation with real data.
Since 2018 a new islands college has been formed in FEDARENE involving 12 island energy agencies and similar organizations. Additionally, 4 mainland energy agencies have been working on islands for some time now. In total, FEDARENE is present in the majority of Member States with islands and provides technical assistance and support to a very large number of islands, including the 1.640 small islands covered by ESIN.
The establishment of this college responds to our need to channel our collective expertise towards European institutions and Member States, in order to ensure that technical and financial assistance designed for the energy transition of islands responds to well-identified challenges, and ultimately delivers tangible improvements in islands’ policy and regulation, both at EU and Member States level. In our view, the energy transition on islands can and must be seen through the lenses of an integrated approach. An approach that maximizes synergies between energy, water, waste, transport, is underpinned by ICT, facilitates access to innovative territorial investment tools and supports enhanced multi-level and multi-lateral governance.
In May 2017, 14 Member States (MS) and the European Commission (EC) signed the Malta Declaration, launching the Clean Energy for EU Islands (CE4EUI) Initiative with the aim to help islands reduce their dependency on energy imports by making better use of their own renewable energy sources and embracing more modern and innovative energy systems. A first step to deliver on the goals of the Initiative has been the establishment of the CE4EUI Secretariat, which will conclude its activities in 2020. For the moment, there is no provision for the continuation of the Initiative in the period post-2020.
Against this backdrop and with the Croatian Presidency of the Council approaching, FEDARENE Islands College1 comes forward with a set of recommendations to contribute in the dialogue regarding the sustainability of the CE4EUI Initiative. These recommendations culminate in the establishment of a long-term Management Body (MB), tasked with realizing the objectives of the Initiative. The set-up and operation of this body needs to be underpinned by a legal framework, jointly agreed upon and binding for the European Commission and Member States who choose to engage.
Considering their role and extensive experience in designing and delivering sustainable energy projects on islands, the members of the FEDARENE Islands College declare their readiness and commitment to support the set-up and operation of this body and its roll-out in the respective Member States. The recommendations included in this memo focus on the structure, governance and thematic intervention of the MB.
The document is a collective effort of FEDARENE members with long-standing presence in islands across the EU, whose role has been pivotal in designing and delivering sustainable energy projects locally for more than 20 years now. It echoes their in-depth understanding of what it takes to accelerate the clean energy transition on islands and more so in a sustainable manner, securing the necessary financial resources and political support at EU and Member States level in the long-run.
Due to their insularity, islands face many difficulties related to their energy needs: high transportation costs, water scarcity, limited economic diversification and local expertise, etc. On the other hand, they also carry significant renewables potential, unique ecosystems, and are often living laboratories for the development of sustainable and innovative solutions. So let’s see how we can unlock islands’ potential and turn them into lighthouses of Europe’s decarbonisation.
In this edition, you will find: