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Top 10 EU sustainable energy projects at Regions Week

Island Gamechanger Award

NESOI, which is the EU Island Facility, organised in the framework of the EU Regions Week (11-14 October 2022) the “Island Gamechanger Award”, which aimed to recognise the evolution of sustainable island projects that can inspire others.

Island recipients were encouraged to apply by 15 September detailing the progress and results of the project. In addition, they also had to highlight their impact and replicability and the level of engagement of the island community.

The jury was composed of a group of five people from DG ENER, IFRI, the University of Genova, and the Cabinet of MEP Tonino Picula, who selected on 30 September 10 projects that could receive additional funding for technical assistance activities to continue their implementation. The best three were invited to Brussels, where the ceremony was broadcast as a side event of the EU’s Week of the Regions. At the same session, the Grand Jury Prize, the People’s Choice Award, and the top ten projects eligible for additional assistance were announced.

Zabala Innovation, as leader of work package number 8: Communication and Dissemination of the New Energy Solutions for Islands (NESOI) project, liaised closely with the EU Clean Energy for Islands Secretariat in the organisation and implementation of this project, especially about the coordination of the NESOI projects’ contributions and the promotion of the campaign which was twofold: on the one hand, the call for participants and, on the other hand, the engagement and participation of the audience.

The Island Gamechanger Award ceremony

The ceremony took place on 11 October 2022 and was webcast from Brussels in the framework of the European Week of Regions and Cities. The session was opened by Mr Tonino Picula, Member of the European Parliament (MEP) and member of the European Parliament (EP) Intergroup for Seas, Rivers, Islands and Coastal Areas, who stressed the importance of working towards energy independence for islands, being himself an islander.

Mr Andrea Martínez, coordinator of the NESOI Islands Facility, then gave a presentation in which he introduced the main lines of the project and the activities that will be carried out in the coming months, such as the series of webinars with best practices related to the energy transition in our islands and the Erasmus Short Study Trips, which will materialise in the spring of 2023.

Ms Marina Montero, coordinator of the EU Clean Energy for Islands secretariat, closed the introduction by explaining the trajectory of the secretariat in its different phases and outlining the type of assistance provided to islands. He then explained the mechanism of the “Island Gamechanger Award” and the process for voting for the People’s Choice Award, which was selected in an online poll during the session.

In the second part of the ceremony, the three best project representatives who had come in person for this award were given the floor. Mr. Dimitris Katsprakis, professor at the Hellenic University of the Mediterranean in Heraklion (Greece) and promoter of the Minoan Energy Community, presented SAVE (Sustainable Actions for Viable Energy); Mr. Ricardo Luis Guerrero Lemus, professor at the University of La Laguna in Tenerife (Spain), presented SoFIA (Assembly of the First Citizen Energy Community of the Canary Islands: Adeje) AKA ADEJE VERDE; and Mr. Eduard Escolà, engineer at the University of Adeje (Spain), presented SoFIA (Assembly of the First Citizen Energy Community of the Canary Islands: Adeje) AKA ADEJE VERDE. Eduard Escolà, engineer of the Waste and Energy Commission of the island of Menorca (Spain), who represented SYMBIOTIX (Socialised photovoltaic plant and energy community with public collaboration for construction and operation).

Finally, the SYMBIOTIX project was the winner of the Jury’s Grand Jury Prize, which was presented by MEP Tonino Picula. SAVE won the public prize.

Award winners at the gala

The selected projects contribute to the achievement of the EU’s broader clean energy goals as set out in the EU Green Pact. Among the ten selected projects, six were supported by NESOI and two of them made it to the top three (more information in the “Island Stories” section of the NESOI website).

  • SYMBIOTIX (Socialised photovoltaic plant and energy community with public collaboration for construction and operation) in Menorca, Spain: The objective of the technical assistance is to find regulatory ways to involve local citizens as investors and owners of the photovoltaic plant implemented, owned, and operated by the consortium of local municipalities. While in Spain there is experience with citizen cooperation and fully public or private ownership of generation plants, there is limited experience with public-private collaboration in a renewable energy project.
  • SoFIA/ADEJE VERDE (Start-up of the First Citizen Energy Community of the Canary Islands: Adeje) in Tenerife, Spain: The project consists in elaborating a feasibility study to establish energy communities around photovoltaic assets in the town of Adeje, where for collective self-consumption, community members will receive a monetary benefit.
  • SAVE (Sustainable Actions for Viable Energy) in Crete, Greece: Two municipally owned and operated sports facilities will participate as prosumers in the smart grid. The stored electricity, combined with photovoltaic electricity production, will result in an annual offset of their electricity consumption, leading to zero-energy facilities, along with improving their energy efficiency.

The other projects included in the top ten list were the following:

  • Energy transition in Venø, Denmark
  • BITET: Transport Energy Transition on the island of Bere, Ireland
  • Community Supported Energy: A step towards community islands SOLAR in Cres-Losinj and Korcula, Croatia
  • Smart Electromobility in Syros, Greece
  • JEDI: Clean and Just Energy Transition of the Diapontian Islands, Greece
  • FESOL: Feasibility study of energy storage and solar energy in Lipari, Italy
  • RETRIEVE in Pantelleria, Italy
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