Vincent Duchene: [For cross-regional projects] you should focus on specific priorities and sub-themes, design coherent and focused packages to work on with other regions […]cross regional partnerships are open [and rely on the fact that] you are committed to working together.
Olga Garcia Garcia: Extremadura’s electricity demand is covered 100% by renewable energy generated in the region. Nevertheless, a further step can be taken by increasing renewable energy production and exporting it to Central and Northern European countries. The European Renewable Energy Directive indicates that the exchange of energy between MS has not yet been implemented.
Claire Nauwelaers: Lessons can be learned when looking at the work of pioneer regions, which, by combining their strategies in the fields of innovation and energy, manage to create synergies despite a fragmented environment. In doing so, they nurture the development of their regions, moving towards a more sustainable future.
The Smart Specialisation (S3) Workshop was divided into four different sections, each of which focused on presentations by three experts and one managing authority as follows:
Section on good S3 practices in the energy sector – methodological insights and identifying valuable knowledge: when S3 touches upon the energy sector it is of crucial importance that strategies and policies in this area provide the main background for implementing "S3-relevant" initiatives and projects. The examples of good practices collected indicate that EU regions have found ways to create synergies both at strategic and operational level. However, they face the problem of a fragmented support and public funding environment. Cases where synergies of funds have been created, notably under the ESIF (using both the T01 and T04 lines of action) are pioneering approaches in this respect. The openness shown by many regions towards exchanging experiences at international level is a good foundation for showcasing and learning from such ambitious approaches.
Section on Social Innovation for S3 in Energy: Social innovation (SI) in the field of renewable energy and energy efficiency is related to citizen involvement and engagement. It can take the form of an organisation, such as consumer/producer associations and cooperatives for renewable energies. It can also generate citizens' investment in the form of innovative financing schemes, such as shareholdings in cooperatives or crowdfunding, including measures for combating energy poverty and innovative educational approaches.
Resistance from utilities and public administrations has to be overcome in order to derive the full potential benefits of SI in energy. Legal barriers must be removed and minds must be changed.
Section on the implementation of the RIS3 Strategy: the established partnerships carry out the following steps in the process, (i) regional commitment, (ii) defining objectives and scope, (iii) mapping capabilities, (iv) matching capabilities, (v) co-development of cross-regional partnerships and (vi) industrial uptake and replication. Specific projects that arise from mapping capabilities and interests should be matched and appropriate funds made available to ensure the successful co-development of projects, industrial uptake and the replication of outcomes.
The Solar S3 partnership: under the S3PE, Extremadura leads an interregional solar partnership. Extremadura is leading the partnership due to its vast experience with solar technologies and its excellent solar radiation conditions. Extremadura is the European region with the most solar capacity installed per inhabitant.
Two innovative projects are already being promoted under this partnership. The first one is a solar plant hybridising concentrated solar power and photovoltaic power. It operates under commercial conditions and includes a research and innovation centre. It will support the export of dispatchable solar energy from Extremadura to other EU regions/Member States. The second one covers the use of medium temperature solar energy in the region for agro-industrial purposes.
Take away message
Strategic approaches for implementing S3 strategies relating to energy have been identified in pilot regions. These pave the way for ambitious, high impact and international initiatives able to address the joint challenge of knowledge-based development towards low-carbon economies.
Social innovation in energy opens up ways to use local resources (e.g. local biomass), skills and businesses.
Extremadura is leading a European solar partnership, with a clear objective to boost the development of innovative projects through interregional cooperation.