This week, renewable energy experts, community leaders and local governments from all over the world meet in Kassel to discuss experiences and strategies to reach so-called 100% renewable energy regions. Anna Leidreiter reports.
What do Šentrupert in Slovenia, Steinfurt district in Germany, the Fukushima Prefecture in Japan and East Hampton in the US have in common? There’s a chance to find out in Kassel, Germany today! The world’s biggest congress for 100% Renewable Energy Regions presents different strategies on how to achieve 100% Renewable Energy. Many cities, regions and communities demonstrate that supplying 100% of our total energy needs with renewable sources is technically and financially achievable, and can bring a wide range of benefits to citizens, businesses, local economies, governments and the environment alike.
Enhancing Policy Dialogue
Hosted by deENet e.V. and an alliance of other German renewable energy organizations , the congress brings together local governments, community leaders and experts to share knowledge and experiences on 100% Renewable Energy for the 5th time. “Hereby, seemingly scattered local actions are powerfully bundled and given political weight as a common movement. It is great to see the growing international interest in this topic.” said Dr. Peter Moser, deENet Competence Network Distributed Energy Technologies. “When we started 5 years ago, we only had German participants. This year, we have delegations from 10 European countries as well as from Japan, Belarus and the US.”
Hans-Josef Fell, Ambassador for Global 100% RE added: “Seeing the 100% Renewable Energy movement growing across the world is very encouraging. Connecting these pioneers and providing a platform for personal engagement and policy dialogue therefore becomes more and more important.”
European Communities heading towards 100% Renewable Energy
One key tool for enhancing international visibility of communities and regions is the European 100%RES Communities label (RES stands for Renewable Energy Sources). It identifies communities and regions pursuing a political vision and goal for achieving a 100% renewable energy supply that is based on substantial strategies and measures. Being part of this 100%RES movement in Europe helps to connect local actions and enables them to tie in with each other’s dynamics.
The first candidates that officially receive the label at the 100% Renewable Energy Regions congress in Kassel include 11 regions/communities from Germany (Steinfurt, Rhein-Hunsrück-Kreis, Osnabrück, Trier, Rietberg, Bad Hersfeld, Wangen im Allgäu, Saerbeck, Alheim, Wildpoldsried, Flecken Steyerberg) as well as Waldviertler Kernland from Austria, Le Mené and Beaujolais Vert from France, Kněžice from Czech Republic, Šentrupert from Slovenia, La Wallonie Picarde from Belgium, Dobbiaco/Toblach from Italy and Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland.
The key lesson learnt and a factor that all communities, cities and regions shared, is the fact that a participatory energy system must be at the heart of every successful 100% RE strategy. Yannick Régnier from CLER, France points out: “The success of the energy transition depends on the participation of citizens, communities and cities!”
“Hearing all the great examples from across Europe, it strikes me that governments must implement inclusive policy frameworks that allow new business models to emerge and a high level of citizen engagement.” said Mr. Yaemon from Aizu Power in Japan, a community power initiative based on Fukushima. And Gordian Raacke from East Hampton in the US added: “I am very inspired by the fact that jurisdictions from across the world demonstrate that we can build positive synergies across the region and build further momentum by providing market access to a wide range of stakeholders.”
Turning best practice into best policy
While being an inspiration, the move towards 100% Renewable Energy is still coming along too slowly around the globe. Policy makers have taken up measures nowhere near proportional to the urgency to act, especially taking into consideration today’s crises such as climate change, loss of biodiversity, resource scarcity and poverty. We need to translate these best practices into best policies on the national level. Leading scientists from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) just recently told world leaders that we have to get emissions to zero in order to ensure that we leave a habitable planet for our current and future generations. At the congress in Kassel, local governments from across the world demonstrate how this can be achieved. Let`s make sure, we build on this success and expand the global 100% RE movement.
To learn more about the 100%RE best-practice examples that were presented at the congress in Kassel, you can download their poster presentations after the congress here.