Empowering Energy Communities in Fons in Denmark

30 October 2020 - Published by Dominique Dhondt

When citizens start empowering each others.

As a part of the European empower project the Danish living lab & pilot project is getting attention from other citizen groups. This means citizens are empowering each other.

 So you may ask: How is it happening in real life, and what does this mean for the Empower projects findings?

An example is that on the 5th October 2020 citizens, coordinators of local rural activity groups, municipality energy planners from the region of southern Denmark (SEP Syd) made a study trip to learn about clean energy possibilities. Besides learning about super efficient cold district heating in the town of Skjoldbjerg (www.termonet.dk) they visited the Danish Empower living lab and pilot project. The pilot is about the citizens in the small village of Føns. In the village the citizens have made Denmarks newest and smallest district heating system. The meeting lead to a lively discussion amongst the citizens and it was held informal in a day to day language at the actual place – an old barn in the village where the heating system is located.

 As an Empower pilot the villagers are working into learning how heatpumps and electricity price signals can influence the heat production by controlling it by themselves.

What does this mean for the Municipality of Middelfart, who is the formal Empower partner in Denmark. Head of Climate and Energy, Morten Westergaard, sums it up like this. “A very underestimated part in many visions about empowering citizens in the energy transition is the concrete implementation. Its not about making pamphlets and homepages. Its about eye to eye contact and dialog amongst target groups and stakeholders”

This opinion is supported by Essex County Council Empower project lead, Luciana de Almeida, who states “Citizens have many agendas, interests and needs. What triggers the engagement in energy transition is not as important as supporting them when they have the “drive for change”. In UK a driver is the Climate crisis. In many ways my experience is that it is start point for supporting them when they are ready for the energy talk....and often citizens want to talk to other experienced, and already empowered, citizens. So communities empowering communities and citizens empowering citizens call for a support and facilitation structure. Exactly what Empower is providing. Facility structures matter”