The Commission plans to decarbonize over 1000 EU islands by 2030 and Local Energy Communities can help achieve this goal. This is the key message of the Public Hearing that was jointly organized by the Smart Islands Initiative and INSULEUR on 10 November.
Following the Political Declaration signed by 14 Member States and the European Commission on 18 May in Valetta, Malta, Crete hosted the Inaugural Forum on the “Clean Energy for All European Islands” initiative, part of the Winter Package, tabled by the European Commission last November under the title “Clean Energy for All Europeans”. The Forum was attended by the Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras and the European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete.
Overall objective of the Initiative was to accelerate European islands’ energy transition, helping them reduce their dependence on energy imports through the exploitation of their high RES potential and the adoption of smart and innovative energy systems.
The Forum was organized by the European Commission and the Greek Government with the participation of many important stakeholders across Europe. It represented a great opportunity for European islands and their initiatives to exchange best practices and present innovative projects implemented on islands in the fields of RES, energy efficiency, smart technologies etc.
Mr. Komninos, the Director of DAFNI Network, coordinator of the Smart Islands Initiative presented the Initiative and how this very important bottom-up effort of European island municipalities and regions can contribute to islands' energy transition. Mr. Komninos' intervention was included in the panel discussion with high-level representation from EU island regions, also signatories of the Smart islands Declaration
The European Small Islands Federation (ESIN) has chosen Orkney as the venue for its annual General Assembly. The annual gathering was organized jointly with Orkney International Science Festival and took place between 11 and 13 September.
Approximately 30 delegates from island authorities, networks and organizations were represented, from countries including France, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Estonia, Greece and of course Scotland. Representatives discussed the challenges facing islands as much as their potential to transform into smart and sustainable territories, by tapping their RES potential, adopting sustainable tourism models and shifting to low-carbon transport.
Mr Komninos, the Director of DAFNI Network, presented the Smart Islands Initiative, coordinated by DAFNI Network, and showcased innovative pilot projects currently implemented on Greek islands, such as WiseGrid, which includes Kythnos as demo site.
Brendan Devlin, Special Advisor to Dominique Ristori, Director-General for Energy at the European Commission, was also there to present the Political Declaration to launch the “Clean Energy for EU islands” Initiative, signed in Malta between the European Commission and 14 member states. The Initiative paves the way for the establishment of a stable, long-term framework, enabling the financing of innovative projects on islands through the leveraging of EU and private funds and also the provision of technical support.
The 18th of May 2017 marks an important milestone for Europe’s islands, signifying a clear recognition of their contribution to Europe’s transition to a low-carbon, sustainable and inclusive economy!
In the frame of the informal meeting of Energy ministers that took place in Valetta under the 2017 Maltese Presidency of the Council of the EU, Ministers of 14 Members States including from Greece, Malta, Cyprus, Italy, Croatia, Germany, France, Denmark, Sweden, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Finland and Estonia signed together with the European Commission a political declaration to launch the new “Clean Energy for EU Islands” initiative.
The initiative builds on the Commission’s “Clean Energy for All Europeans” Communication of November 2016 and is aimed at accelerating the clean energy transition on EU islands, by helping them reduce their dependency on energy imports through enhanced exploitation of their own renewable energy sources and uptake of more modern and innovative energy systems.
Members States expressed their full support to the Initiative as a stable, long-term framework that will help support replicable and scalable projects through the provision of financing and technical capacity for islands. To this end, they invited other countries to join the cause!
This development signals the significant progress islands have achieved in having their challenges as much as their potential reflected in EU policies!
The Smart Islands Initiative, spearheaded by island local and regional authorities of the Members States signing the Declaration, has been a key driver in building momentum and catalyzing the national and European support for islands in Europe!
The Congress was organized by Smart City Expo World Congress and Fira Barcelona and attended by a significant number of islands from across the globe, as well as representatives from the private sector and academia!
The event came at a time of growing interest for islands.
The Smart Islands Initiative, represented by the Network of Sustainable Islands - DAFNI, held a workshop on the second day, featuring successful sustainable development projects from different EU islands that are members to the Initiative!
During the workshop six projects from Portugal, Spain, Croatia, Sweden, UK and Estonia were presented covering a range of topics from wind farm cooperative set-up and high nature value farming to RES uptake in the local energy mix, low-carbon transport and deployment of smart technologies such as micro-grids.
The workshop was well attended, raising participants' awareness around the potential and success stories produced by EU islands!
The event was organized by European island authorities and actors, co-hosted and warmly supported by a group of MEPs representing Member States with islands. Lead host was Eva Kaili and among the present co-hosts were: Gabriel Mato (ES), Miriam Dalli (MT), Jens Gieseke (DE), Davor Škrlec (HR), Neoklis Sylikiotis (CY), Salvatore Cicu (IT) and Anna Hedh (SE).
The event built on the 1st Smart Islands Forum and brought together key stakeholders, i.e. island authorities, EU policy makers, utilities and service operators, market players and citizen groups to discuss how the Smart Islands Initiative can be the vehicle that will drive islands’ transition into a smart, sustainable and inclusive future. During the event 36 island representatives from Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Ireland, Malta, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands and the UK signed the Smart Islands Declaration, cornerstone document of the Smart Islands Initiative. The official signing ceremony was launched by Director-General for Energy Dominique Ristori, a long supporter of islands in Europe!
See the agenda here
The event came at a time of growing interest for islands.
Maltese Presidency: Malta, an island MS holding the Presidency, has set policy priorities, i.e. deep single market for digital and energy services, more social inclusion and a boost to blue growth that are also supported by the Smart Islands Initiative.
Clean Energy For All Europeans: In Annex II of the Winter Package the Commission underscores the potential of islands to host pilot innovative projects and help drive Europe’s energy transition.
Innovative Demo Projects: The business and R&D community have long expressed their interest to test innovative technologies on islands, as showcased by a number of projects including WiseGRID, TILOS, E-FERRY, Smart Region Pellworm, EcoGrid EU, stoRE and more.
The Forum was organized at the initiative of DAFNI Network, coordinator of the SMILEGOV project, which officially ended in 2015. In SMILEGOV 13 island partners worked to improve Multi-Level Governance so as to enable the realization of sustainable energy projects at island local level. The Forum built on this foundation, offering the opportunity to capitalize on the results of SMILEGOV and broaden at the same time the European family of islands.
More than 40 representatives of island local and regional authorities and actors from Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Malta, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands and the UK attended the Forum. Also, representatives of organizations with an interest in the potential carried by islands including from the European Commission, CPMR, EESC, ESIN, INSULEUR, GEF and GIZ addressed the Forum.