The second edition of Energy Cities’ European Cooperation Lab took place at the end of April with 3 city teams coming from Czech Republic, Italy and Spain. Two days of enriching exchanges and practical workshops to start planning community energy projects in cities!
When we thought about the format of the lab, at the end of 2019 – social distancing and lockdown where not part of our daily vocabulary then – we imagined it as a way for 3 groups from different cities to get together, in person, and be inspired to take action. Strasbourg was supposed to host the city cohorts: we asked each city to bring along representatives of the civil society (a cooperative, a citizen group or an association) they would like to collaborate with to launch a community energy project. The pandemic obliged us to transform it in an online event and, in October 2020, the first edition of the lab took place with Pamplona (Spain), Modena (Italy) and Strasbourg (France). Nevertheless, it was a successful event, so much that we were happy to replicate it in 2021 – again with support of the European Climate Foundation.
On the first day, we hosted an informal gathering to get to know each other better and prepared ourselves to the workshop. This year, participants where coming from Prague, Valencia and UCSA, the Joint Office for Sustainability of four Italian towns near Naples (San Giuseppe Vesuviano, San Gennaro Vesuviano, Palma Campania and Striano). We had the chance of welcoming back some of the participants to the previous lab, they advised the new-comers on how to make the most out of the workshop and informed us on the progress of their community energy projects. For example, in Strasbourg, the recently launched Energy Brewers cooperative is going at full speed! They have been installing the first panels on municipal buildings and soon, they will launch the first fundraising activities. Many people expressed interest in taking part in the energy cooperative.
The following day, Jordi Peris Blanes, General Coordinator of urban strategies and sustainable agenda for Valencia City Council officially kicked off the lab. During the day, participants could learn more about the EU and national legislations on community energy thanks to experts from Friends of the Earth Europe, Fundaccion Renovable (Spain), Legambiente (Italy) and SEMMO (Czech Republic). Together with our partner RESCoop, we presented them with different options for cooperation and examples of successful projects that are already happening in fellow European cities.
The cooperation lab is not only a learning and networking opportunity; we want the participants to start a concrete community energy project. Therefore, the second part of the day is fully dedicated to drafting a cooperation plan. We provided templates and suggestions for each group to do so; each city had the opportunity to work with their citizens and come up with a set of goals, activities and a timeline for actions. At the end of the day, they presented their draft plans and received feedbacks from the other participants, to improve the plan and facilitate the implementation. We do not expect these cooperation plans to be final, on the contrary, we asked each group to keep working on them and inform us on the progresses.
How nice would have been to continue the interesting conversation face-to-face, over a drink after such a full day of work? Unfortunately, it was not possible this time, but we are planning additional cooperation labs this year…Follow this space for more information!