The COBEN Team got together again – this time at the newest COBEN partner in Uppsala, Sweden

In May 2022, the consortium met for a COBEN Project Meeting in Uppsala. It was a great opportunity to have further fruitful discussions on pressing issues that civic energy initiatives face and exchange on innovative solutions to overcome these challenges.

The colleagues from Uppsala kommun introduced us to their energy system and explained their ongoing market aggregation strategies that are tested to overcome grid capacity issues. To tackle issues like grid capacity constraints, Uppsala kommun has also been developing a matchmaking platform that offers different stakeholders a way to link with others with different needs that share the same mission, while the municipality can help to assist the development of energy communities. This platform also provides insights into possible ways in which the municipality can actively facilitate the development of energy communities, e.g. by integrating it into spatial planning processes, for instance in the energy system development of the new city district in Bergsbrunna.

In another workshop the partners from Veolia took on the lead in order to identify the common capacity needs (other than grid capacity of course) that are needed for the successful development and implementation of civic energy initiatives within the COBEN partnership. One important aspect in the development of civic energy initiatives is the procurement. While this might not seem the most exciting topic at first, our partners from the municipality of Emmen and the Province of East Flanders introduced us to their “civic tendering” solutions that anchor community benefits into the tendering processes for civic energy developments. While some barriers still exist, such innovative solutions can present a crucial foundation for accelerating the uptake of civic energy throughout the North Sea region. 

The team from Uppsala kommun then invited the COBEN partners to visit “Carpe Futurum”, the new bio-fueled district heating plant. Presentation about the waste heat market and the connection to civic energy.

Johan Siilakka, the facilities development manager at Vattenfall, informed the COBEN team about the waste heat market and Uppsala’s journey to fossil-free heat by 2025, which was combined with a personal tour through Vattenfall’s facilities and the new Carpe Futurum plant.

As COBEN is coming to an end this year, the partners have reflected on the benefits and barriers of civic energy. We conducted a littler exercise in which each partner had to compare the expected community benefits with the actual implementation on the ground. Civic energy holds extensive opportunities for the transition toward a decentralised renewables-based energy system that benefits the local communities involved. However, there still exist a swamp of legal and administrative barriers that hinder the successful uptake of civic energy throughout the EU and therefore somewhat hinder the delivery of community benefits. By identifying these barriers and testing innovative solutions, COBEN contributes to advancing the green and just transition in the North Sea region.