This project brought together all different aspects of sustainable communities to create a platform of information exchange. The concept of energy sustainable communities (ESC) has been defined in more detail with the aim of fostering the implementation of this concept in Europe and in Central and Eastern European Countries (CEECs).
Experiences of actors who have already successfully implemented the concept of sustainable communities on the various levels was taken into account during the key-actor discussion groups (see below).
A comprehensive guide of key-success factors and compilation of success stories of Energy Sustainable Communities (ESCs) was prepared by experts in the field of renewables. The outcomes of the key-actor discussion groups served as a basis for writing this guide. It informs about the technical, political and socio-economic aspects of ESC. More importantly its ambition is to be a guide for communities that are on their way to becoming an ESC. The first chapter provides an overview of the concept of Sustainable Development and links the evolution of the concept (from the Rio Conference, to the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg to today) with the ESC approach. It secondly provides information about the characteristics of ESC – there are several dimensions to ESC, i.e. the social and the environmental dimensions, the economic and the technical dimensions, the political dimension etc. – the RES technologies, their application cost and their potential in Europe. The following technologies, which are renewable energy-based - solar electricity, wind power, geothermal energy, biomass, small hydropower and solar thermal - are presented in some detail in the guide.
The ESC concept can be implemented at different levels, i.e. municipalities, urban areas, regions, rural zones, industrial areas and islands. Experiences of actors who have already successfully implemented the ESC concept have been taken into account in the guide. You will find abstracts of successful ESC in chapter 1. In addition there is a compilation of success stories (i.e. presentation of 20 best practice case studies) at the back of the guide for additional information.
The benefits of becoming an ESC are extensive. Among them: energy independence, environmental, economic and social benefits such as job creation, CO2 reduction, etc. The guide stresses how important it is to disseminate information on the benefits. They play an important role in generating support for the action towards sustainable development.
General indicators of ESC (elements of ESC) can roughly be categorised into 10 sections. They deal with RES and the rational use of energy (RUE), amongst others. The (level of) RES and RUE development in a community, rural area, etc as well as the existent sustainable energy production in the community, rural area, etc. are among the most important elements of ESC due to obvious reasons. The use of sustainable energy, i.e. the use of RES, is indeed closely linked to the RUE since the objectives of sustainable energy development will only be fulfilled if both areas – RES and RUE - are exploited. Secondly, depending on the current state of energy production and the RES potential, different paths have to be taken into consideration.
The second, third and fourth chapters deal with the technical, the political and the socio-economic aspects of ESC and are presented in short form on the web partner forum.
Finally the chapter Central and Eastern European Countries’ Characteristics analyses the obstacles for RES and RUE development in these countries. The chapter however puts emphasis on the positive results achieved so far, without forgetting to also stress the replication potential in Central and Eastern Europe.
The organisation of a conference on ESC: in order to disseminate best-practice examples within the EU and Central & Eastern European Countries.
This conference, embedded in the Sustainable Communities Conference organised by the O.Oe. Energiesparverband and supported by EREC, took place on 4 March 2005.
The launching of a web partner forum: the forum will bring together existing energy sustainable communities and those who wish to become ESC. The partner forum aims at facilitating this move and it gives advice on the process of becoming an ESCs.