Renewable energy sources (RES) will have to play a predominant role in EU’s future energy mix. However, the current policy and regulatory framework does not entirely facilitate this transition but instead reflects a business-as-usual approach. The current RE target on EU level in the Climate and Energy 2030 Framework lacks ambition with regards to the low goal setting of “at least 27%” and due to its “EU-wide” level approach without member state contributions. In light of this weak policy framework, there is one mechanism, which may still help to increase the share of renewables to the scale and speed needed to counter today’s challenges: The idea of regional cooperations.
Regional cooperation can effectively bridge the gap between national renewable energy policies and a Europeanised approach to renewable energy deployment. Additionally, regional action across borders allows for participation of non-state actors, possibly a higher political legitimacy and fitted solutions for local conditions. A common cross-border identity might be facilitated through these projects and the revenue generated by the decentralized energy plants is more likely to stay within the region.
The study “Driving Regional Cooperation Forward in the 2030 Renewable Energy Framework”, written by the consultancy Ecofys on behalf of the Heinrich Böll Foundation’s EU Office (HBF EU), explores the potential benefits of regional renewables cooperation and provides policy suggestions on how such cooperation can effectively be enhanced. In addition, findings from the World Future Council`s programme on 100% Renewable Energy in the EU show that there is a window of opportunity for adapting the legislative framework to strengthen regional cooperation on renewable energy. To harvest this potential and develop a strategy for implementation, a comprehensive and inclusive policy dialogue is needed to a) build cross-sectorial and multi-level-governance networks, b) learn from pioneering regions and pilot projects and c) build political momentum for the topic.
Therefore, the Heinrich Böll Foundation (HBF) EU office and the World Future Council are hosting a series of stakeholder workshops and a study tour to further develop, discuss and exchange solutions enhancing and strengthening regional cooperation aiming at a sustainable energy transition. The goal is to provide concrete examples and transferable policy solutions by discussing crucial questions with and in frontrunner regions. Therefore it will be organised in the framework of HBF’s #Regions4GreenEconomy series which are organised together with the representatives of different German Länder in Brussels, and the Global 100% RE Campaign #Go100RE.
This series of events builds on some of the policy recommendations that were outlined in the recently published HBF report “Driving regional cooperation forward in the 2030 renewable energy framework” (2015). This report presents a variety of options for strengthening regional cooperation. Further, it builds on findings that the WFC has identified in its program on “100% Renewable Energy in the EU”, which included a parliamentary hearing, a study tour to El Hierro, Spain as well as a lunch debate with MEPs and Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete.
The kick-off event took place in the form of a stakeholder workshop on 25 and 26 of April 2016 in Brussels. It convened people from initiatives of cross-border cooperation, sharing learnings and examples from around Europe and representatives from EU institutions incl. European Commission, European Parliament, RE interests groups and energy regulators. In a policy dialogue it was explored how to foster RES deployment in the European Union by strengthening regions and regional cooperation. This report as well as this blog article share the insights and recommendation that were discussed. Please find all presentation and photos of the event below.
Following up on this, in September 2016, a study-tour to the North Sea Region took place to build on these findings. 13 policy makers and shapers from 9 countries travelled 1.500 kilometers from Denmark via Germany and the Netherlands to Belgium. This 5-day tour served as a platform for in-depth learning about existing and possible future cooperation and provided thoughts, inspiration, opportunities and contacts to the participants. Watch this film to learn more about the tour. In a final meeting in the European Parliament, these insights were shared with representatives from the European Parliament and Commission. Please find all presentations and photos of the tour below.