The energy transition entails specific challenges in the Alps, e.g., regarding the development of renewable energy production in the sensitive Alpine environment or energy-efficiency solutions in areas with low-population density and the resilience of the energy system to climate change impacts. On the other hand, there are many small municipalities in the Alps which have limited resources for international exchange. An Alpine-wide network of regional energy coordinators would allow the exchange of relevant experiences and support the implementation of “Alpine-fit” mitigation and adaptation solutions.
The municipal level is crucial for implementing effective climate change mitigation and adaptation solutions and is a key interface for incentivizing climate-friendly behaviour of the general public. However, decision makers at local level often have limited capacities to develop and implement sustainable energy action plans (with links to other sectors), to identify opportunities for funding investments, to join forces and use synergies with other stakeholders etc.
Regional energy coordinators have the potential to close this “implementation gap”, serving as knowledge gateway for decision makers at local level (technical and procedural advice, knowhow on funding opportunities, communication support. Regional energy coordinators shall also bring together the needs from different municipalities to develop joint solutions (bundling of activities). In many Alpine regions, regional and local energy agencies are playing this role with local authorities in their daily interactions.
The network of regional energy coordinators should be used to promote and support pilot actions to develop decentralized energy solutions (also including smart grid solutions). This network should be based on existing organization when possible.
An Alpine training programme for regional energy coordinators would enable an instruction of regional coordinators and an exchange of experience between coordinators (could also include an “Erasmus”-type exchange for specific professions, e.g., mountain building professionals). All training courses of this programme shall be based on a common curricula for training and exchange.
Regional, national and European energy planning schemes ranging from the European Energy Award to national schemes (e.g., Austrian E5 programme, Italian ComuneClima, Energie Stadt Schweiz, Energie Kommunen Germany), to ICLEI (Local Governments for Sustainability) and the Covenant of Mayors and several EU level smart city initiatives as well as regional schemes like the Positive Energy Scheme (TEPOS) supported by the Rhône-Alpes Council
First elements of network of regional coordinators and related activities as established under the PEACE_Alps project (ASP 2015-18)
ALPACA (stock-taking No. 48)
EUSALP AG9: EUSALP Energy collaboration platform, Network for the Promotion of local Energy Management Systems (EMS), Report: Operationalising one-stop-shops on local level
Experiences of specific projects, e.g., SINFONIA (stock-taking No. 78)
Experiences with the set-up of networks at regional level (e.g., in Bavaria)
Considering the sensitive Alpine environment and potential conflicts, a smart coordinated approach to steer the development of renewable energy systems is necessary in the Alps. Also, the development of energy-efficiency solutions needs to be tailor-made in the Alps, e.g. to meet the specific needs in areas with low-population density. To realize ambitious energy savings, the transition towards climate-neutral Alps will also require a change in behavioural patterns, lifestyles and business models which have specific patterns in the Alps that require customized approaches.
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