Leaving behind the summer holidays and the COVID-19 restrictions that unfortunately have been with us during the last year and a half, September arrived with a busy agenda for REScoop.eu. In the last couple of weeks, we have welcomed partners from several projects in Brussels and we have met face-to-face with friends we hadn’t met for a very long time. Are you curious about what we have been up to? Here you have an update.

Working on two new projects

This summer we have launched two new projects, and although we have already been working on them for a couples of months, these days we have met our partners face-to-face for the first time.

SCCALE 203050 continues REScoop.eu work towards a holistic community building methodology that can serve citizen initiatives of different types across the EU. This week, cooperatives from France, Belgium, Netherlands, Croatia and Greece shared key success factors for flourishing energy communities, and we discussed with partners how these could be replicated in different countries and communities.

One of the objectives of SCCALE 203050 is to assess how exactly successful communities got from one step to the next, and how to reproduce this with new and starting citizen initiatives. In the upcoming months we will publish resources with these insights, including engagement strategies, guides, action plans and a full toolkit. Stay tuned!

SCCALE 203050 project partners meeting.
SCCALE 203050 project partners meeting.

CEES, which stands for Community Energy for Energy Solidarity, is opening a new line of work for REScoop.eu in the area of energy poverty. Today, over 50 million Europeans are not able to adequately light, heat or cool their homes, and energy communities have found different ways of getting together to fight this situation. Through CEES we aim to identify successful initiatives and compile them in an Energy Solidarity Toolkit that will enable their replication.

Last week, we met with most of our projects partners for the first time in real life – unfortunately we missed our Croatian and British colleagues due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions. It was a great opportunity to share and collect information on the solidarity mechanisms that cooperative partners have in place and discuss where we are and where we want to take this project. We can already announce that later this month we will launch the CEES website where you will find detailed information about what this project is about. Keep an eye out on our channels to be the first one to know about the launch!

CEES project partners meeting.
CEES project partners meeting.

Moving forward with flexibility and citizen-led renovation

These days we have also received in our office partners who have been working with us since last year in two key areas of work of the federation: flexibility and citizen-led renovation.

As we increase the production of renewable energy, the electricity system needs to increase it flexibility to adapt the energy consumption to the variable sun and wind energy production. In the REScoopVPP project we are developing tools that allow users to lower their energy consumption and to use primarily renewable energy whenever available.

A key element to make it possible is the Community-driven Flexibility Box (COFY Box) that we are developing and which was extensively discussed last week. Partners agreed that the first prototype will be ready for implementation at the project pilot sites by Christmas this year. Testers will get a COFY-box installed (hardware) and get access to my COFYbox, an online portal that analyses and visualises data from the different devices at home. At the same time, a community portal to allow energy communities to test different flexibility services for their members will be launched.

Do you want to receive updates about the REScoopVPP tools directly in your mailbox? Subscribe to the project newsletter.

REScoopVPP project partners meeting.
REScoopVPP project partners meeting.

Today we have finished a two-day bootcamp in which the members of our citizen-led renovation working group have finally met in person after a long time of digital cooperation. Participants from eight countries have shared knowledge and insights on doing home renovation for and with citizens. As an Energent colleague stated during the training, “cooperatives are the perfect model for neighbourhood renovation; they can, and they are good at, combining the technical with the social aspects.”

At REScoop.eu we want to facilitate knowledge exchange and best practices sharing among our members working on this issue. For this reason we set up the citizen-led renovation working group in November last year. Are you part of an energy cooperative member of REScoop.eu and interested in or working on sustainable renovation? Then contact our colleague Sem Oxenaar and join our working group!

Citizen-led renovation bootcamp.
Citizen-led renovation bootcamp.

Setting up an energy community for the RE/SOURCED circular smart grid

Last week we also had our first face-to-face meeting with our partners from the RE/SOURCED project. We took the opportunity to visit for the first time Transfo - a former coal fired power station in the municipality of Zwevegem, Belgium, which now consists of social family housing, offices, a microbrewery, event spaces and leisure and sporting facilities. The aim of the RE/SOURCED project is to create a circular smart grid at Transfo. During our meeting last week we started the preparations to set-up the energy community that will manage the smart grid and in which all site users will have a share.

Moreover, we had some technical discussions around the technologies we will use for energy production and storage. The smart grid of Transfo will be quite unique because its backbone is a direct current power grid, which offers some advantages compared to alternating current, and because it will be built with recycled or re/used materials. At the end of the project we will publish a training package with our experiences to share the lessons learned and enable other cities to adopt similar approaches.

Turbine hall on the Transfo site, in Zwevegem, Belgium. (c) Intercommunale Leiedal.

Great news for our Compile project

Last week we also heard from the EU Sustainable Energy Week that our Compile project was nominated for the EU Sustainable Energy Awards 2021! Compile is competing with five other projects in the category Citizens’ Award, which recognises initiatives and individuals working on innovative and engaging ways to reinvent Europe’s energy landscape.

Vote now to recognise the work we have done with Compile helping to integrate renewable energy into Europe’s rural areas!

If you want to have a general overview of all the projects we are currently involved in, visit our EU projects page.