The best European clean energy projects and leaders received top recognition at the EU Sustainable Energy Awards ceremony. Five winners took home awards in their respective categories – Engagement, Innovation, Woman in Energy, Young Energy Trailblazer – and the Citizens’ Award. An expert jury selected the winners in the Engagement and Innovation categories while European citizens chose the others via a public vote. European Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson, was on hand to congratulate the winners at the online awards ceremony which kicked off Day 1 of the EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW).
Commissioner Simson praised all five EU Sustainable Energy Awards winners commenting, “The projects and individuals that are being recognised today are not only leaders in transforming Europe’s energy landscape, they are role models. Their work is a testament to the importance of citizen engagement in making the European Green Deal a reality. We’ve been working hard to develop policy instruments, which guide and support action on the ground, and it is truly inspiring to see this vision at work. Together, we are bringing Europe closer to its climate goals.“
EnergyNeighbourhoods took home the Engagement award for its green lifestyle programme that empowers citizens to save energy in Hungary
The Engagement award recognises activities with high social acceptance potential, that inspire and motivate citizens to change their energy usage habits.
“The EnergyNeighbourhoods programme helps citizens take action against climate change without any investment but by changing their everyday behavior,“ says Edina Vadovics, Scientific Director at GreenDependent Institute, the programme’s coordinator. “We help people change their lifestyles, save energy and reduce their carbon footprint, thus reducing their contribution to climate change.“
LIFE-DIADEME won the Innovation award for its innovative public lighting scheme which reduces emissions and improves pedestrian safety
The Innovation award recognises outstanding EU-funded activities that show an original and innovative path toward the clean energy transition.
“We have installed almost 800 sensors on light posts in the two pilot areas in Rome, and an additional 200 in Rimini and Piacenza,” says Linda Meleo, Councillor for Infrastructure Development in Rome’s Department of Infrastructure. “It is an energy-saving technology but it also promotes pedestrian safety. Many municipalities are reluctant to implement adaptive lighting technologies for fear of lighting dimming when the conditions are unsafe, but the real-time aspect of LIFE-DIADEME overcomes this.”
Woman in Energy award
Birgit Hansen, Mayor of Frederikshavn, won the Woman in Energy award for her local leadership in climate planning
The Woman in Energy award recognises outstanding activities led by women that, if replicated, help to advance the clean energy transition in Europe and contribute to the European energy and climate targets.
“My role as a mayor and as a leader is to motivate people to act on this agenda. I need to be at the forefront and bring together industry, citizens and the municipality to make things happen. We made partnerships within the municipality, so all actors who want to get involved in our green transformation can do so,” explains Birgit when discussing the role of leadership and climate action.
Young Energy Trailblazer
Koprčina scooped the Young Energy Trailblazer award for democratising solar energy ownership
The Young Energy Trailblazer award recognises outstanding activities carried out by young people (under 35) which advance the clean energy transition in Europe and inspire ambitious climate and energy action.
“I wanted to show that the choice between making money and having a positive impact on the environment is a false dichotomy,” says Filip, “citizens who invest in these solar projects can expect greater returns than they would receive if their money was in a bank. The amount of energy we will save from the investments committed to date is equal to charging 17.5 million smartphones.”
RenOnBill took the Citizens’ Award for bringing financial institutions and utilities together to increase renovation uptake
The Citizens’ Award recognises initiatives and individuals working on innovative and engaging ways to reinvent Europe’s energy landscape. The six projects competing in the Engagement and Innovation categories were up for consideration for this award, determined by public vote.
“Together with financial institutions, utility companies cover the initial investment of a building renovation. The resulting savings that homeowners eventually see on their energy bills is used to pay back the utility, appearing as a line item on the customer’s energy bills,” explains Paolo Michele Sonvilla, RenOnBill Project Coordinator from Creara, Spain. “On-bill financing can reduce the upfront costs of energy renovations to zero.”
About the EU Sustainable Energy Awards
Twelve outstanding individuals and projects are highlighted at the EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) 2021 for their innovation in energy efficiency and renewables. Finalists were chosen from a list of the year’s most successful projects for clean, secure and efficient energy. The EU Sustainable Energy Awards have four categories – Engagement, Innovation, Woman in Energy and Young Energy Trailblazer – as well as the Citizen’s Award. Prizes were awarded by an expert jury (for Engagement and Innovation), and by citizens via a public vote.
EUSEW 2021 runs from 25 to 29 October 2021, under the theme ‘Towards 2030: Reshaping the European Energy System’. Taking place ahead of the decisive COP 26, the event brings together energy policy experts, industry leaders, academia and civil society representatives to discuss how forward-looking policies for decarbonisation, energy efficiency, climate mitigation, and many others comprising the European Green Deal, can help rebuild a better and more resilient society and economy.
Photo: Mike McBey