Myth : Rural areas have a low carbon footprintRural communities often have higher carbon footprints than their urban counterparts as well as significant quality of air issues. This is due to a number of factors: the need to drive longer distances, a lack of energy choice leading to the use of polluting fuels (coal, heating oil, wood), and the agricultural output of greenhouse gases
Winner's of 2013 Tell The Future competition announced!
Congratulations to Jimmy Dunne, a 3rd year student at De La Salle College, Dundalk, and Sara Hyde, who is a 5th year student at Villers secondary School, Limerick, who have been awarded first place in the junior and senior categories of the Tell The Future all-island story writing competition which focused on the future of Ireland’s energy supply .
Both Jimmy and Sara’s entries will be transformed into a one-of-a-kind animated video and will be posted online very shortly!
1st Jimmy Dunne
2nd Claire McGuickan
3rd Lauren Naughton
1st Sara Hyde
2nd Aya Helmy
3rd Kate Doyle
FREE welcomes two new friends
MEPs Bela Glattfelder (EPP, Hungary) and Lena Kolarska-Bobińska (EPP, Poland), recently stated their support for the FREE initiative by becoming “Friends of FREE”.
Bela Glattfelder, a substitute for the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development and the Committee on Fisheries, is closely involved in the Parliamentary work on rural development. On becoming a Friend of FREE, Glattfelder stated his belief that “in the future, agriculture and rural areas will produce not only food, but also renewable energies, since they can be produced mostly in rural areas. Renewable energies are becoming increasingly popular among farmers, the rural areas and agriculture in Europe cannot be competitive without them.”
Lena Kolarska-Bobińska is a Member of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and a Substitute Member of the Committee on Regional Development. Closely involved in rural energy activities over the past years, Ms. Kolarska-Bobińska was recently draftswoman of the Parliamentary report on “The role of EU cohesion policy and its actors in implementing the new European energy policy”, which calls for an improved energy situation in rural areas.
European micro-CHP market will perish without strong government support, cautions Frost & Sullivan
Micro-combined heat and power (CHP) units could replace over 5 million conventional boilers and greatly boost Europe’s energy efficiency. However, the technology is being held back by weak incentives, erratic government support and a lack of information to educate consumers about its benefits.
According to new analysis from Frost & Sullivan, Germany is the leading market for micro-CHP in Europe thanks to government subsidies and a €20 million funding program. The UK has also seen its market develop thanks to government incentive schemes. However, many other countries are falling behind due a lack of initiatives to promote the technology.
"Currently available incentives are inadequate to promote the transition of the micro-CHP market from pre- to mass commercialisation," noted Frost & Sullivan Energy & Environmental Research Analyst Neha Vikash. "Policy makers need to realise the benefits that this technology can deliver on a large-scale, both at EU and regional levels."
Although promoted by the EU’s Energy Efficiency Directive, Member State support schemes for micro-CHP lack consistency, which is impacting negatively on investments and eroding confidence among existing market participants as well as potential new entrants.
Better government support is needed to drive sales of micro-CHP, bring costs down and encourage more widespread up-take of the technology, advised Vikash.
"Stronger policies supporting micro-CHP are critical to driving higher volumes," stated Vikash, who added that: "The challenge facing the industry's growth at this juncture is regulatory rather than technical."
Euromontana launches 2020 initiative to encourage sustainable growth in mountainous regions
Euromontana have launched an initiative to help inform citizens living in mountainous regions of how these areas can contribute to achieving EU 2020 sustainable development goals. ‘Toward Mountains 2020’ will seek to build on knowledge about the development potential of these regions by encouraging organizations and authorities to communicate their experiences of programmes that have worked for them in the past, so as to better inform policy decisions for the future.
Mountainous regions account for 41.3% of Europe’s territory (EU-27, Norway, Switzerland, Balkans and Turkey) and are home to 25.4% of its people. Rich in biodiversity and natural resources, these majestic, towering landscapes not only inspire with their beauty the thousands who flock there all year round seeking adventure and leisure, they also provide for many of Europe’s citizens a place to live and work and raise families.
As Euromontana highlight: “these territories have a strong innovation and growth potential in areas targeted by the European Union in its 2020 framework, be it smart growth (bioeconomy), green growth (low-carbon energy, sustainable agriculture and forestry) or inclusive growth (strong communities and welcoming territories). Exploiting fully this potential requires active, ambitious and targeted policies, which help to overcome constraints related to difficult geography and changing climate which result in every action being more expensive to implement”.
The initiative shows success is achievable; however, many regions are still failing to realise their potential due to inadequate policies and a lack of investment. 'Toward Mountains 2020' aims to inform decision-makers and mountain dwelling citizens that solutions are there that can overcome these problems and ensure these important regions achieve sustainable, inclusive growth that will be to the benefit of all of Europe.
Click here to learn more about the “Toward Mountains 2020” initiative.
FREE extends its list of FriendsLast month, the FREE initiative welcomed two new ‘Friends of FREE’: Mr. Brian Meaney and Ms. Julie Girling, MEP.
Mr. Brian Meaney is a draftsman of the Committee of the Regions Opinion on ‘Energy efficiency in cities and regions — a focus on the differences between rural districts and cities’. He is a Founding Member of the Clare Green Party in Ireland and demonstrated his support for the FREE initiative while drafting the Opinion, where he included several references to FREE research.
The FREE initiative has also been officially endorsed by Julie Girling, a British Conservative politician, currently serving as a Member of European Parliament for the South West of England. Ms. Girling is a member of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development and a strong supporter of cleaner and decentralised energy options in rural areas.
FREE discusses ICT Roadmap to Energy Efficient neighbourhoodsOn 5 March 2013, IREEN and FREE initiative hosted a workshop on 'ICT Roadmap to Energy Efficient neighbourhoods'. IREEN is a European Commission 'Coordination Action' project, aimed at delivering a comprehensive strategy for European-scale innovation and take-up in the field energy efficiency and performance technology for large areas, including neighbourhoods and extended urban/rural communities.
The workshop attracted circa 30 rural stakeholders from Belgium, the Netherlands, UK, Ireland, Italy, Spain and Poland allowing a cross-EU exchange of views. Participants discussed rural energy challenges and solutions related to energy production and distribution, transport and human impact. Results of the workshop will feed into a roadmap which will be published in September 2013, and which will provide guidance for the future calls within the next EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, Horizon 2020.
The workshop agenda is available here. Presentations from the event will be available on our website in the coming weeks.
Click here to learn more about the IREEN Project.
MEP Kolarska–Bobinska report on the ‘Role of EU cohesion policy in implementing the new European policy’ adoptedOn 16 January, the European Parliament adopted by a large majority MEP Lena Kolarska-Bobińska's (EPP, Poland) report on the 'Role of EU cohesion policy and its actors in implementing the new European energy policy'.
The final report emphasises the need for an energy efficiency strategy to be developed for "small and medium-sized towns and rural communities", and mentions the need for energy policy to be 'rural proof' to ensure that differences between regions are minimised. The final document also calls to "support steps to facilitate access to new technologies for rural areas, especially in the area of microgeneration".
According to MEP Kolarska-Bobińska, "European energy projects can contribute to regional development and create more jobs. It can be done by, among others, investments in decentralised energy sources, energy efficiency and the expansion of energy infrastructure".
PRESS RELEASE: European Parliament backs energy action for rural EuropeansBRUSSELS, 16 January 2013 – The European Parliament today backed action to address the often neglected needs of over 50% of Europeans who live in rural areas. In a resolution on the ‘Role of EU cohesion policy in implementing the new European policy’ drafted by MEP Lena Kolarska-Bobińska (EPP, Poland) the Parliament called for the EU’s energy policies to be rural-proofed in the future, an energy efficiency strategy to be developed for small communities and for greater efforts to ensure new technologies, such as micro-cogeneration, to reach rural areas.
Andrew Ford of SHV Energy, a member of the Future of Rural Energy in Europe (FREE) initiative, said “For too long EU policymakers have neglected the energy needs of those Europeans who live in rural areas. Today Parliament championed the right of all Europeans to be part of Europe’s energy revolution.”
Rural areas face a range of challenges related to their different energy use patterns and their access to energy resources. For instance According to French statistics office INSEE, since 1985, there is an increasing gap between rural and semi-urban households and those living in city centers. Urban inhabitants have been the first to benefit from better building insulation and energy efficient heating systems and vehicles.
The FREE initiative is campaigning for the Commission to include an assessment of the impact of policy on rural communities before it is proposed to take into account these differences. It also believes that a combination of specific measures focused on energy efficiency and new technologies can ensure that rural areas are not left behind as Europe moves to a low carbon energy future.
A strategy that addresses small communities and supports the introduction of technologies that are particularly suited to countryside buildings, such as micro-CHP, is urgent according to the FREE members. “Energy is at the heart of a successful Europe. Without a strategy that addresses the differences between rural and urban areas and targets support for getting new energy technologies into rural areas, Europe only risks growing further apart,” stated Magdalena Chawuła – Kosuri, Director of the Regional Office of Silesia in Brussels, a member of the FREE coalition.ENDS
A full description of FREE initiative’s position on energy in rural areas can be found in a White Paper here. For more information, please contact Ewa Abramiuk, FREE Secretariat, +32 495 80 88 88 firstname.lastname@example.org
MEPs call for action to combat 'energy povertyPolish MEP Wojciech Olejniczak has called for extra measures to protect rural areas which he says are the "most threatened by energy poverty".
The former Polish agriculture minister was speaking at a debate in parliament on EU energy policy towards rural regions.
The Socialist member said the EU needs to review rural energy as part of overall energy policy.
He added, "The focus of EU energy policy should not be only on large infrastructure projects, but should include decentralised energy and regional and local levels." [source: The Parliament Magazine]
FREE Choices Campaign - launch video