Home Communities For Future Forums COMETS project general A new COMETS report showcases innovative experiences of CAIs around the world

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    Joan Segura

    By Winston Gilcrease

    The COMETS project produced a report in July 2021 that showcases a selection of innovative, “frontier”, Collective Action Initiatives (CAIs) from Europe and around the world.  The report aims to raise awareness on experiences of communities that have made energy accessible and affordable for citizens. This report provides a variety of insights into how CAIs are contributing to the energy transition in different parts of the world as well as shedding light on their potential for scaling up. This report can inspire citizens and communities looking to be engaged, or already deeply involved, in energy movements.

    Frontier case studies aim to highlight dimensions that go beyond the traditional foci of traditional CAI development that often looks at installation capacity of renewable energy sources based on wind, solar, and biomass, as well as energy efficiency implementation. These cases also include potentially innovative ideas for CAI activities, both socially and structurally. This may include implementing low carbon mobility services or opportunities arising from the deployment of crowdfunding and block-chain technologies.

    Frontier case studies are meant to be peculiar examples of CAIs that possess unique and innovative features, or unique combinations of some of the features that can be found in other CAIs. In this way, it will be possible to take into account the cases that are more challenging to categorize, and which may possess seeds for future niches to develop. The strength of the COMETS project is supported by the analysis of the frontier case studies and complements the analysis of other established cases.

    The more collective action there is for building movements, the more there can be to influence energy policies that can support these initiatives. The report focuses on exploring innovative “frontier” case studies that represent a particularly innovative contribution to the future of social innovation in the energy transition. Even if not yet widely applied (i.e. niche level), the “frontier” cases represent a particularly innovative contribution to the future of social innovation in the energy transition.

    While CAIs develop based on different motivations, they address a common thread: to reconcile economic, social and environmental needs, whether it for the local community or the needs around the world. With pressing environmental and energy justice issues motivating citizens to rethink our global energy systems, it is especially important to create systems that achieve objectives of providing energy access to all, especially low-income communities, and ensuring stable markets while addressing climate change. The toolbox of solutions to a just energy transition must address the nexus of social innovations and economic and technical advancements.

    Investigating innovative CAIs also means that the COMETS consortium considered cases with the highest forward-looking content that are explored in-depth to contribute to the inputs for scenario-building in the COMETS project. The “frontier” cases in this report offer insights into methods and efforts that may have worked successfully or proved futile in the process of community empowerment. In the end, the 20 cases reveal common challenges that many CAIs face in the energy field. The measuring of the performance of social innovative CAIs in the energy transition, as envisaged in COMETS, goes beyond measuring the performance of individual CAIs. The goal is to derive robust qualitive estimates for their aggregate contribution to the energy transition which will help to increase the perceived ownership of citizens of the energy transition. This empirical investigation is complemented by qualitative data gathered in selected European countries and around the world looking at case studies at the “frontier” of social innovation.


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