Rationale

The commitment to an energy transition policy, designed to replace the fossil fuel based economy by a renewables-based, low-carbon economy, has been widely proclaimed by the EU Commission (Renewable Energy Directive, 2030 Policy Framework for Climate and Energy),national governments (e.g. the German Energiewende) and the North Sea Commission (NorthSea Region 2020). Even more ambitious transition targets have been set in a number of regional energy plans featured in the project, e.g. Energi2020 strategy/ Ringkøbing-Skjern Municipality, 2020 Route map for Renewable Energy in Scotland, Masterplan 100% Klimaschutz/Osnabrück.

Although civil society so far has only been peripherally involved in energy production, civic energy has already become the key driver of the transition to renewables The EESC European Economic and Social Committee, defines civic renewable energy as “decentralised renewable energy generation owned (at least 50%) or operated by citizens, local initiatives, communities, local authorities, charities, NGOs, farmers, cooperatives or SMEs, creating a stream of local value that can stay within the region”. Civic energy has multiple benefits to offer:

  • Civic energy taps local resources that are too expensive to transport
  • Small-scale producers have lower profit margins than big utilities, which makes the transition to renewables a viable option
  • Local energy production means lower grid infrastructure costs
  • 5 out of 6 renewable energy jobs are local
  • Community budgets are no longer undermined by volatile energy pricing
  • Citizens can tackle climate change

 

Workplan

The project initiative has identified civic energy as the key enabler of the greening of the energy base of the North Sea economy. We aim to make sustainable growth happen. The project work plan is driven by transnational cooperation and clear objectives:

  • Promote the uptake of civic energy as the main player of energy transition
  • Mobilize local energy potential in pioneering North Sea communities
  • Shift energy value chains from centralized structures to communities
  • Pilot the development of civic energy enterprises
  • Deliver real benefits to citizens from civic energy enterprises and partnerships
  • Make civic energy blueprints available for other communities to adopt
  • Support transnational cooperation on local energy promotion