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COMETs project top recommendations for Belgian energy communities

Home Communities For Future Forums Belgium COMETS COMETs project top recommendations for Belgian energy communities

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    Joan Segura
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    The COMETS project did a collaborative exercise between practicioners and researchers on the field of collective actions for the energy transition. From this exercise, a set of advice was derived on strategy, how to measure impact, improving the outreach, and cooperating with other institutions with similar interests.

     

    During 2020 and 2021, the team from the COMETS project brought together a group of collective action initiatives working for the energy transition, public institutions and other entities involved in the transition, and researchers. The discussions followed a robust research and engagement methodology, ‘Consortium Benchmarking’, a form of collaborative case study approach between researchers an practitioners. Contrary to other research approaches, Consortium Benchmarking does not predefine the questions to address or hypothesis or solutions to test. The topics of interest are thus driven by the participants, including the challenges and how to address them.

     

    From that exercise, a series of recommendations for communities, policy makers and future research. Here we present a summary of the recommendations for communities. Note that this is distillated from the collective practicioner-researcher exercise rather than it being formal recommendations or conclusions from the researchers.

     

    1. Develop a strategy: A strategic exercise is recommended, with the exercise focusing on future vision, objectives and how to get there. The exercise should be repeated overtime.

    2. How to measure impact: Monitor the impact of your activities and the evolution of your objectives. For example, estimated reduction of CO2, number of households in energy poverty supported, etc…. Defining the monitoring procedure and tools might be better done with other initiatives with similar objectives. By upscaling the effort, development costs can be reduced and a consistent reporting at national level can support future legislation.

    3. Engaging your members for active participation: Create formal structures and informal spaces in which members can participate according to their availability and interest. Examples of formal structures are general assemblies or working groups, whilst informal spaces can be online discussion platforms or social media, but also where feasible in person meet and greet, tours to facilities, and other activities.

    4. Reaching out outside your membership: Create visibility for your initiative and its activities by being present online, notably through websites and social media. Collaborate with local ambassadors. The communication channels should be diversified, and targeting the audiences you want to reach. Keep in mind that people find it difficult or tiring to understand new technical aspects or certain models of sharing. This is a barrier for people to participate and engage, avoid jargon and technical details that are not targeted for your audience.

    5. Take a pro-active approach in creating future opportunities by e.g., lobbying, applying for pilot projects, showcasing good practices and setting up networks.

    6. Enhance networking, partnerships and knowledge creation among CAI’s: to explore new business models, (e.g., shared mobility, renovation, energy-efficiency, flexibility services), to enlarge outreach to potential members and project partners, to share knowledge on specific topics and target groups, to pool resources and experts, to get access to RES projects and research projects, to have financing or create financing opportunities.

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