European islands look for renewable energy solutions

Geographical location:

Europe/Middle-East > Southern Europe > Greece

Greece, a country full of sun and wind, must invest in the development of sustainable energies.
© WWF-Canon / Carlos G. VALLECILLO

Summary

Isolated island communities face many challenges, especially in meeting increasing energy demand. WWF is working with partners in three European islands – Cyprus, Crete and Sardinia – to develop successful renewable and sustainable energy policies and technologies. This includes helping the islands source renewable energy from water, wind, solar, biomass and geothermal.

Although some progress has been made, a lot more needs to be done to meet the European Union’s target of having 20% of its energy coming from renewable sources by 2020.

Background

Energy policy plays an important role in climate change mitigation, as the energy sector is one of the main sources of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Furthermore, the European Union is increasingly depending on energy imported from third countries, creating economic, social, political and other risks. This is why, the development and implementation of an energy policy, which promotes the increase of the penetration of Renewable Energy Sources (RES) in the european energy system and the utilisation of Rational Use of Energy (RUE) technologies, is particularly important to the EU Sustainable Development Strategy, adopted by the European Council in Gothenburg in June 2001.

Although, there has been substantial progress towards this direction already,, effort is still required in order to achieve the above stated objectives. To overcome this critical stage, appropriate steps must be taken at all levels, i.e. local, regional, national and European. Additionally, the necessity to facilitate the access to good practice and related information is high.

More specifically, there is much more to be done at the local level in order to:

1) Increase awareness on RES and RUE potential impacts on the local communities.
2) Identify the appropriate RES and RUE technologies based on the communities' characteristics and requirements.
3) Identify alternative ways to support the investment required in order to implement RES and RUE technologies.
4) Establish a mechanism for promoting RES and RUE technologies in the local markets.
5) Develop Sustainable Energy Plans (SEPs) setting the energy strategy for the successful implementation of the RES and RUE technologies in the communities.

In addition, little effort is focused on the development of RES and RUE in isolated areas like islands, rural areas, forest or coastal villages, mountain valleys etc, due to their geographical location and morphological characteristics, which are either isolated in terms of network infrastructure, i.e. electricity networks and transportation networks, or constitute ecologically protected areas, in which case infrastructure development interventions should comply to very specific requirements.

In this context, the main objective of the RERINA project is to capitalise in the past and on-going research mentioned above in order to formulate and implement an integrated methodological approach supporting the development of Sustainable Energy Communities (SECs) in insular ecologically protected/sensitive areas.

Objectives

- Develop and implement a methodological approach, capable to support insular communities’ stakeholders to develop and implement efficient Sustainable Energy Plans (SEPs). The proposed approach will consider the characteristics, which determine the nature of the problem at hand, i.e. the needs and requirements that a SEP should address (the fact that many stakeholders with multiple and sometimes conflicting objectives are involved, the substantial lack of information and other).

- Apply the developed approach on SEP development to 3 insular areas in Cyprus, Crete and Sardinia (Cabras). Through these case studies, the proposed approach for SEP development will be validated, while at the same time important information on potential problems, omissions and gaps on technological, research and policy issues will be identified.

- Identify the potential problems and bottlenecks to RES development and penetration in insular and ecologically sensitive areas.

- Identify the degree of maturity of the communities on energy saving and environmental protection issues.

- Identify the existing potentials for SEC implementation in the European islands and examine issues related to SEC characteristics and best-practice.

- Provide insight to policy makers on the issues that should be considered in order to develop a successful policy on the development of SECs in island and ecologically sensitive areas, i.e. the elaboration of public participation schemes and policy measures alleviating and support Renewable Energy Sources (RES) awareness, acceptability and development issues in these communities.

- Identify the requirements that awareness and training campaigns on RES development addressed to islands and ecologically sensitive areas should fulfil in order to be successful.

Solution

Some of the expected results of the project are:

- A typology of alternative renewable energy technologies according to the use they are most suitable for, taking into account the needs of each specific insular area.
- A typology of European islands and ecologically sensitive areas according to their characteristics (geographical, economic, social, environmental, etc).
- An integrated methodological approach capable to support insular communities’ stakeholders to develop and implement an efficient SEP.
- Conclusions on the potential problems and bottlenecks in implementing a SEP.
- A practical guide for SEC planners.
- Information on the degree of maturity of the communities on promoting energy efficiency and environmental protection issues.
- Conclusions on the potential for SEC development on European islands.
- A dissemination plan for an awareness campaign on European islands concerning the promotion of renewable energy technologies.
- A European conference related to the issue of SECs.

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