Samsø 2.0 – Energy Education, from Denmark, has earned top prize in the 2012 ManagEnergy Award competition for its outstanding sustainable energy actions at the local and regional level. The honour was officially conferred by Günther Oettinger, European Commissioner for Energy, during a dedicated ceremony held on Tuesday 19 June. The ceremony marked an auspicious start to the EU Sustainable Energy Week.
The winner and two runners-up for the award—Community Power Cornwall from the United Kingdom, and Energy Efficiency Measures in Multi-Residential Buildings from Latvia—were selected by a high-level jury composed of representatives from public authorities, energy agencies, city networks, and industry and citizens associations from across Europe. The jury members were:
William Gillett, Head of Unit at the Executive Agency for Competitiveness & Innovation (EACI); Dörte Fouquet of the European Renewable Energies Federation; Timo Gensel of Lampertheim City Council; Bartoz Dubinski of the Mazovia Energy Agency; Pirita Lindholm of Climate Alliance; and Karel Derveaux of the REScoop project.
The jury's rigorous evaluation procedure considered the projects’ impact, sustainability and replication potential. For this year's round of the competition, ManagEnergy received a record 64 projects from 23 countries, covering a wide range of energy efficiency and renewable energy topics.
This year, the ManagEnergy Award competition was coordinated with the Sustainable Energy Europe Awards.
In 1997, the Danish island of Samsø entered a renewable energy competition sponsored by the Danish Ministry of Environment and Energy. The challenge was for competing islands to present a convincing plan for converting their entire energy systems to renewable energy within a period of 10 years. Samsø won.
Today, the island supplies more than enough energy to meet its entire electricity needs. Instead of importing energy, Samsø now exports enough wind-generated power that its CO2 emissions represent a negative figure: - 3.7 tons per year.
Now, through a new initiative called Samsø 2.0 – Energy Education, the island will seek to go further. Its goal is to set an example for Denmark’s ambition of reaching 100% fossil fuel independence by 2050. Samsø has said that they can do it faster—by 2030.
While the island’s past success was based mostly on the production of energy, the new initiative takes an integrated approach, focusing more on its rational consumption. As Søren Hermansen, the director of the Samsø Energy Academy, pointed out ‘you can’t always produce your way out of a problem.’ Indeed, since the island first started down the renewable energy path, there has been some indication that their electricity demand has risen.
The current objective, then, is to convince residents that further reductions in energy use are needed, and that certain off-grid sources of CO2 emissions can also be eliminated. The lowest hanging fruits have been picked, but the highest remain. This is no small feat, however, even for an island with such an accomplished record in renewable energy.
‘We have learned from the previous process that part of success involves good planning and technological know-how, expertise and availability,’ said Hermansen. ‘But the other part is local understanding and local capacity building. Because if people are not aware of the possibilities and don’t understand the potential of certain reduction measures, you only reach a standstill.’
The goals of Samsø 2.0 reach far beyond the island itself. It also aims to be a prime destination for sustainable energy planning and capacity building, and to help establish a wider international network of energy academies and partners. Already, the Samsø Energy Academy hosts thousands of researchers and policy makers each year who are interested in the social impact and financial structure around the local ownership of renewable energy systems. This includes Pact of Island signatories for whom Samsø is an important object of study.
Community Power Cornwall is a pioneering co-operative that enables local communities to own and benefit from renewable energy installations. It was established in response to the growing demand of local communities in Cornwall to address the challenges of climate change, energy security and rising fuel costs.
The two most significant barriers facing communities that wish to install renewable energy facilities are a lack of options for raising finance and difficulties in securing planning permission for projects. Community Power Cornwall assists with both.
To raise capital for projects, the co-operative issues shares to interested investors—mostly to members of the community in question—that can then be used to leverage loans and grants for the installation of renewable technologies. All shareholders have an equal vote in how the co-operative is managed and developed. The objective, though, is always to consider the triple-bottom line: financial, social, and environmental responsibility.
Low carbon funds are also set up in each of the host communities, and surpluses made through the ventures can be allocated to re-investment in future local renewable generation capacity and broader low carbon activities.
So far, Community Power Cornwall has successfully applied this financing model to the installation of two new (Endurance E3012) wind turbines in the Cornish village of Gorran, each with an installed capacity of 80kW. These are expected to generate 480,000 kWh of electricity, and save 251 tons of CO2 per year. The local community has raised £80,000 (approx. €100,000) through their share issue, which is a considerable amount for such a small community. While the co-operative’s initial focus is on wind-generated electricity—for sale on the national grid—they are in the process of developing a portfolio of other renewable energy technologies including biomass, hydro and solar.
Community Power Cornwall, whose financing model has already proven valuable to local communities like Gorran, would be easily transferrable around the UK and more widely across Europe. The cooperative offers inspiration to other communities that share similar characteristics to Cornwall (e.g., are rural, not connected to a gas grid and have poorly insulated buildings), and who wish to reduce carbon emissions while securing their energy supply through investment in the local economy.
Energy Efficiency Measures in Multi-Residential Buildings is an initiative of the Zemgale Regional Energy Agency (ZREA) in Latvia. It facilitates the refurbishment of multi-residential buildings, a major consumer of energy in the region and in the country as a whole.
Two out of every three Latvians live in multi-residential buildings, 90% of which were built between 1948 and 1989—a period not marked by particularly efficient construction. These buildings are responsible for more than 60% of total energy consumption.
The most challenging step of the refurbishment process is convincing home owners of its need and importance. For this reason, ZREA has launched extensive communication and information campaigns.
These include both seminars and one-to-one consultations with owners, emphasising the benefits of refurbishment, which include improved living environments and increased property values and energy savings.
Co-financing provided by the government offers a significant incentive for owners to launch renovations. This funding comes from the National Operational Programme for Infrastructure and Services, which is supported by the European Regional Development Fund.
In order to access funding, individual home owners or groups represented by housing companies submit detailed applications, stating the condition of the building in question, the extent of the required renovation and the estimated budget. ZREA provides technical assistance for this process by conducting the required energy audits and on-site inspections, outlining the technical details of the renovation, collecting the requested documentation, and by helping draft the funding application.
The co-financing rate offered by the programme is 50%, with a maximum of €50 per m2 of heated floor area. The remaining 50% is contributed by the owners themselves, which is commonly covered by bank loans. The loans typically have a payback period of 8 to 12 years.
The monthly loan payment of approximately €45 is almost entirely compensated for by the savings that result from the efficiency measures. Between 2009 and 2011, more than 50 refurbishment applications were approved by the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia.
Several multi-residential buildings have already been fully refurbished: four in the city of Jelgava, three in Jekabpils, one in Lecava county and others across the region. The agency’s target is to help refurbish up to four multi-residential buildings in each of the region’s 22 municipalities.
In line with the EU’s policy priorities on Energy Efficiency, ZREA aims to renovate half of the multi-residential buildings in the region by 2020. Such an action would generate energy savings of up to 40%, reduce CO2 emissions by 12,800 tons, and help create new jobs in the building renovation and energy services sectors.