Citizens’ involvement into renewables through ALPGRIDS & SHREC Interreg projects

My name is Marine and I am currently volunteering as a project partner in Auvergne Rhône Alpes Energie Environnement agency in France.

My host organisation is a regional energy agency, also representing a network gathering about eighty regional actors from renewables as well as local communities. It aims at promoting, co-ordinating and developing programmes and actions in favour of sustainable energies in the building and transport sectors, climate change mitigation and adaptation, environment protection and sustainable development. It is also a member of FEDARENE, a European network of energy agencies based in Brussels.

As a volunteer, I am working on two Interreg projects:

  • ALPGRIDS, a project from the Interreg Alpine Space program, aims at increasing the uptake of RES in the Alps through microgrid solutions and addresses two main challenges: increasing energy autonomy by facilitating local energy transactions; improve the resilience of electricity networks (regular power outages). The project focuses on creating a transnational enabling environment to foster microgrid solutions supporting in particular the creation of local energy communities (high involvement of citizens).

  • The goal of the SHREC project is to contribute to an increase of the renewable energy share in energy production by encouraging the production and use of renewable energy by businesses, communities and households. In this sense, the AURA EE agency is focusing on renewable energy projects involving citizens.

Both projects are actually linked since they address the question of citizens’ participation: citizens’ involvement in renewable energy projects (SHREC); the role and models of Citizen Energy Communities in the Alpine region (ALPGRIDS).

For ALPGRIDS project, I am working on project communication (writing of articles, newsletter) and am also involved in the study of two European directives about Renewable Energy Communities (REC) and Citizen Energy Communities (CEC), their definitions and concerns. The final objective is to study the way it could be transposed in the French law, as well as our European partners national law, to finally analyse its impact on our ALPGRIDS project. The 6th & 7th of October, ALPGRIDS second partner meeting was organised online. It was the opportunity to meet all the project partners and have a better understanding of the project thematic.

For the Interreg Europe SHREC project, I am both working on the communication of the project and the writing of regional “good practices”. It is an activity done during the second semester of Interreg Europe projects, and aims at promoting at the European level, regional practices (it could be events, projects, methodologies of cooperation, communication) which are efficient to tackle the issue addressed by the project. I am currently working on good practices about the involvement of citizens in the financing and governance of heating networks projects. Then, the objective is to identify legal and financial models that could be replicated on the territories of our project partners, and at a larger scale.

As part of the French presidency of EUSALP (EU strategy for the Alpine region), an event has been organised the 30th September & 1st October in Chamonix. The day was dedicated to territorial cooperation, climate change and the impacts and management of risks in the Alpine space. It was the opportunity to promote both SHREC and ALPGRIDS projects.

Finally, the question of citizens’ involvement in the governance and financing of renewable energy projects is currently an important concern, it is also a subject highly addressed by the incoming European programs (including the current H2020 Green Deal Call). The question of citizens and local stakeholders’ engagement is a way to address several issues such as local acceptance, re-appropriation of energy sources by locals, communication & awareness.

Working on this thematic as an IVY volunteer is very meaningful for me since it is one of IVY’s main objectives to inform and raise awareness on territorial cooperation, including citizens’ involvement and actions.

Thank you IVY programme for this enriching experience! :)

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