1. Project-level analysis

This section provides an overview of the seven INTERREG IVC funded projects in the field of renewable energy. It explores the aims and findings of each project and discusses the good practices they have identified. The first part covers three technology-specific projects and the second part covers the remaining projects without a specific technology focus. Table 7 summarises the key aims of each project.

Table 7 – Overview of the seven Renewable Energy projects
Projects with focus on specific RES type
GEO.POWERFocused on low enthalpy geothermal energy, particularly through ground-coupled heat pump technology. The aim is to transfer good practices into structural funds mainstream by producing regional strategies.
BIO.EN.AREAFocused on bioenergy (both biomass and biofuels). The aim is to exchange and transfer experiences amongst partners to increase regional capacity and develop regional Biomass Action Plans.
4PowerFocused on Offshore Wind energy. The aim is to exchange knowledge between experienced and learning regions to create a common understanding of challenges for implementation.
Projects without focus on specific RES type
MORE4NRGThe aim is to exchange best practices on sustainable energy policy and jointly develop an integrated monitoring tool for measuring the effect of regional sustainable energy strategies.
Regions4GreenGrowthThe aim is to equip regions with policy instruments, mechanisms and approaches to improve access to finance for RES, and speed up investments in sustainable energy projects in their territories.
Renewable Energy Regions Network (RENREN)The aim is to improve regional policies in RES to optimise existing frameworks, as well as to establish strategic co-operation between regions for new approaches, projects and solutions.
Renewable Energies Transfer System (RETS)The aim is to increase knowledge and competencies of local and regional policymakers (especially in small, rural regions) in renewable energy systems to facilitate a greater deployment of renewable energy policies.

In order to be confident of the applicability of results from the capitalisation of these projects, a thorough analysis of regional co-operation and regional performance has been undertaken (See Annex for Tables). 69 different regions from 21 Member States were involved in the seven projects. One member of the European Economic Area also took part.

The projects included a good mixture of newer (2005/2007 enlargement) and older (EU15) members. The new states had 21 regions in the projects, with 48 from older members. Of the EU states from the last two enlargements, only Slovakia and Lithuania did not have any participant regions. The regions in the projects represent 57 NUTS2 statistical regions (21% of the total 271 NUTS2 regions in the EU). 26 of these are Convergence areas, whilst 31 fall under the Regional Competitiveness objective. All of the project leaders came from areas under the Regional Competitiveness and Employment objective.

This variety of regional involvement found suggests broad applicability of this capitalisation, as results will not be dominated by particular regional geographic or political trends.

  • 1.1 GEO.POWER

      Capitalisation Project

      ERDF funding: €1 612 258
      Budget: €2 031 530
      Start date: 1st January 2010
      End date: 31st December 2012
      Partners: 12
      Countries: 9
      Good practices: 28

      Geothermal energy is the energy extracted from heat stored in the earth in the form of high-enthalpy resources (such as magma conduits and geysers) or low-enthalpy resources that can be found abundantly at a relatively shallow soil depth. In countries with high-enthalpy resources, geothermal energy has been used for many years. Whilst the market for low-enthalpy is still underdeveloped, the technology to exploit lower thermo-dynamic potential does exist, for example in the form of ground coupled heat pumps (GCHPs). In order to deal with this market failure and to allow geo-thermal energy to tap into the vast potential of the renewable energy heating and cooling market, GEO.POWER aimed to develop local policy strategies and instruments to boost the low enthalpy geothermal energy market, especially ground coupled heat pumps, by profiling an integrated package of incentives and technical measures in the frame of Regional Operation Programmes (post-2013).

      Good practices on GCHP application were pooled and evaluated for reproducibility in each region to help produce regional action plans. These regional action plans contained technical guidelines, potential legislation and financing schemes with which to lobby national Managing Authorities of Structural Funds.

      Analysis of good practices

      GEO.POWER collected 28 best practices from the partner regions. All but one of these practices are demonstration projects showcasing technology applications rather than policy measures. The highest number of good practices (37%) collected concern geo-thermal applications in commercial buildings (offices, shops, hotels, etc.) followed by public buildings such as schools and hospitals (26%) and multiple sectors which is mainly comprised of district heating solutions and businesses installing heat pumps (26%). Therefore, although the good practices collected are demonstrative, they also illustrate the importance of cross-sectoral cooperation and support policies.

      The final practice, not falling under the scope of demonstration project, was a Swedish R&D project exploring the design of borehole heat exchangers. With the focus of the project on GCHPs, geothermal electricity production has been left out of the good practice collection, with preference being for spatial heating & cooling and water heating.

      Outstanding good practices

      1. The Swedish case study on Arlanda airport, the world’s largest aquifer thermal energy storage unit, strongly demonstrates the potential of geothermal energy. This practice was on an enormous scale, and took advantage of Sweden’s very extensive experience with geothermal. However, due to the scale of the project and the sheer variety of success factors, the project partners considered it too difficult to be transferred.

      2. It was felt it would be more realistic to focus on smaller practices that could collectively build to a critical mass for a learning region. The most transferable practice selected by eight GEO.POWER partners was the TELENOR headquarters in Hungary. As a new construction, it was designed from the outset to include renewables and energy efficiency measures.

      3. Although not selected for the GEO.POWER brochure, the capitalisation experts identified the market success of GCHPs in Sweden as being of interest for other regions. Here, the development of the geo-energy market was driven through public procurement by the Swedish National Board for Technological Development (NUTEK). Improved technology and better awareness amongst the population led to an increase of 400% in GCHP sales between 2002 and 1995. Green Public Procurement plays a key role in breaking market monopolies and encourages industries to invest in green technologies, thus increasing supply and driving down costs.

      Transfer has not yet occurred between regions at the time of writing, but partners have the intention of performing 20-24 transfers in the regional action plans that have been drawn up.

      RES success prerequisites

      Strong and dedicated management was identified by the project leader as a key factor for RES success. Whilst this is certainly true, it can be extended to human resources as a whole, such as having a wide variety of expertise, stakeholders, managers and even leading companies involved. In terms of domestic heating and cooling, several practices showed overlap between public and private sectors, with few instigated by individual home owners. The lack of individually initiated projects highlights the immaturity of the geothermal market and strongly suggests the importance of support schemes. Firstly, support is needed to encourage individual investment (return time is mid- to long-term), but it also suggests that flats, districts and publicly owned buildings are more easily targeted by policymakers than individual homes.

      The project partners carried out SWOT analyses to evaluate the potential of the regions, and transferability assessments were performed to understand the appropriateness and transfer potential for each region. This methodology is valuable and should be considered by other projects looking to speed up the transfer of good practices.

      Difficulties identified

      The main barrier to the uptake of geothermal energy was identified as a lack of appropriate legislation - particularly in relation to new builds and financial incentives. The retrofitting of properties is a costly process and, with financing difficult to access, individuals are often unwilling to invest and pursue complex planning permissions. Placing geothermal energy requirements in the planning phase of a new build prevents these problems from emerging. The cause of this policy inefficiency comes from low awareness amongst policymakers and a status quo that favours fossil fuels.

      The segmented nature of the European residential housing market makes it difficult to tackle. Residencies fall into social/publicly owned housing, rented housing, and owned housing. The ’owner-tenant’ dilemma is present in the rented market, where neither the owner nor tenant of a house will invest in a GCHP, as the benefit of such a system is split between them. To overcome these challenges, financial incentives should be provided and community-schemes should be explored.

      Other outcomes

      As a Capitalisation project, the project’s aim was to transfer good practices on low-enthalpy geothermal energy to the Strucutural Funds mainstream by defining potential actions in regional strategies. The following recommendations were produced for policymakers:

      * Financial incentives are important to encourage the uptake of GCHPs in the property market and need to be substantial enough to stimulate investment;

      * Regulations for the new build market which require a set level of energy efficiency and RES use should be implemented;

      * Quality schemes should be put in place for the construction industry to bring together diverse qualification requirements and build customer confidence in registered installers;

      * Training is needed to enable installers to switch from oil and gas boilers to geothermal systems;

      * Efforts need to be made to increase public awareness and engage consumers to make the choice to use RES, in particular by awareness raising campaigns and demonstration projects; a current lack of knowledge leads to market distortion, leaving low-enthalpy geothermal markets underdeveloped, which in turn leads to slow technology development.

      The regional action plans that were produced included measures such as the adoption (or increase) of financial incentives; introduction of supports (e.g. tax rebates) for large and innovative systems; showing economic feasibility and technical performance with demonstration projects; improving system efficiency and life-cycle of installations; creating clear regulatory frameworks for installation, and; accelerating administrative processes.

      Commitment and planning

      Regional RES strategy and policy
      Flevoland (NL) adopted a climate and energy strategy in 2007. The initial step was to set a target to produce 60% of energy from renewable sources by 2013. Then, a detailed strategy was developed to identify the RES types that could contribute to this aim, taking account of cost-effectiveness, available resources and potential bottlenecks. Finally, an action plan was created outlining concrete actions to be taken to achieve the goal. The action plan was further developed by interviewing staff of the local province on their thoughts for RES expansion and by consulting external partners. The province does not invest in RES itself, but has focused on facilitating the entry of private partners. By 2013, the province had achieved its target.
      Greenovate! Europe elaboration of More4NRG good practice

      One area not covered in the project recommendations, but included in the regional action plans of Västra Götalandsregionen and of Slovenia, was that of cleantech innovation and technology development, though, such policy practices may have been outside the scope of a capitalisation project.


      - Conceive and implement tailor made communication campaigns on low-enthalpy geothermal energy towards key stakeholders and multipliers: media, city and regional planners, house owners and policymakers at regional and EU level;

      - Communicate recommendations and best practices to European and regional stakeholders involved in designing the Structural Funds;

      - Develop a special media education programme on low-enthalpy geothermal energy including journalist visits and seminars to raise awareness and understanding of the subject;

      - Provide all communication material in a clear, non-technical language avoiding technical terminology and abbreviations;

      - Use best practices to showcase the potential of low-enthalpy geothermal energy (also those that are difficult to transfer such as Arlanda Airport);

      - Promote awareness of community schemes (such as district heating) to overcome the owner-tenant dilemma by lowering prices through economies of scale and by offering incentives to owners;

      - Geo.Power concerns over the ‘owner-tenant’ dilemma in retrofitting housing were also identified by the RETS project. The project partners should discuss their practices and findings on the issue.

  • 1.2. BIO.EN.AREA

      Regional Initiative Project

      ERDF funding: €2 444 370
      Budget: €3 125 000
      Start date: 1st January 2010
      End date: 30th June 2013
      Partners: 6
      Countries: 6
      Good practices: 30

      Biomass has been identified as a key renewable resource by the European Commission with a variety of uses, from heating and cooling to transport. However, regional policy and planning need to ensure sustainable production of biomass avoiding negative impacts such as monoculture crops and land-use change from food production to fuel crop production.

      The BIO.EN.AREA aimed to produce four regional Biomass Action Plans (BAPs) to encourage uptake of sustainable bioenergy use by the learning regions that did not already have them, and a set of regional BAP guidelines, written up by the remaining two experienced partners. This was assisted by exchanging experiences and good practices on the use and development of different types of bioenergy. In order to tackle all sources of bioenergy, BIO-EN-AREA defined three areas of focus: forest & wood biomass; energy crops, agricultural by-products & livestock waste biomass, and; urban waste biomass. BIO-EN-AREA also organised an open-tender competition for sub-projects aiming to produce transferable results for regional BAPs.  Seven subprojects were approved covering biogas, energy crops, biomass sustainability and certification, regional economic and social infrastructure, organic waste potential, local policy support and biomass enterprises and value chains.

      Analysis of good practices

      A total of 30 good practices have been collected and disseminated between the project partners (See chart, top). Seventeen of these were demonstration practices (called ‘biomass installations’ by the project), and 13 practices were more policy or R&D oriented, classified into nine biomass logistics (access to fuel or value-chain monitoring) and four transversal (cross-cutting) initiatives, without specific focus on a fuel type or use.

      As for the breakdown by sector (chart, bottom), seventeen good practices were related to bioenergy as a heat source, five explored combined generation of heat and electricity, two explored biofuels (both looking at biodiesel production) and the remaining six did not specify an area of use.

      In terms of practice transfer, most will be visible through the regional BAPs once they are complete. Regions with particular strengths have been working closely with others to pass on experiences. For example, there has been close co-operation between Sweden and Estonia on forest biomass exploitation, and Spanish and Italian regions have followed Irish examples of biogas use.

      Outstanding good practices

      1. Biomass logistics: The Sandviksverket biomass combined heat and power plant (Växjö, Sweden) is particularly impressive for its fuel logistics, using 90% fuel wood, all of which is found within 70-100km from the city. The Greek pilot cardoon plantation for co-firing with lignite was intended to test conditions for co-firing, finding that up to 10% cardoon could be mixed into the fuel supply for lignite fuelled power plants, leading to reductions in CO2 emissions.

      2. Biomass installations: The power station in Tartu, Estonia co-produces heat and power using local biomass instead of natural gas imported from Russia. Initially, the station had to overcome strong opposition but now runs automatically and can switch to heat production only at peak times in the winter. The use of anaerobic digestion for biogas production at Camphill Community in Ireland is an example of RES self-sufficiency, as the independent system provides the community of ninety people with all of their required heat and power. The biogas used is produced on-site from local agricultural waste.

      3. Transversal initiatives: The R&D activities on bioenergy at the Italian Edmund Mach Foundation produces studies on local agriculture and land use and takes part in international co-operative research projects. Having a pool of experts gives the province a strong basis for the use of bioenergy, supported by links with the local population and territories.

      RES success prerequisites

      The BIO.EN.AREA partners underlined that the main prerequisites for bioenergy are adequate local fuel supplies (preferably waste); adaptation to the region; trained installers and managers; awareness raising activities and investment in R&D. Low awareness and limited investment have thus far meant that the bioenergy market is not developing optimally. However, with fuel supplies available in most local environments, it is imperative that regions understand that bioenergy can create strong opportunities for regional growth and potentially leads to regional energy independence. As a pre-requisite, regions should identify current strengths and weaknesses of the regional biomass value chain and seek synergies for the local economy.

      Difficulties identified

      * Large biomass plants need to ensure connection to the grid and long-term access to an adequate quantity of biomass based on lasting, local biomass value chains.

      * Smaller biomass plants are still expensive and somewhat uncompetitive compared to other renewables. Greater investment in R&D will be required to change this.

      * Biomass boilers, suitable for individual homes and premises are, relatively speaking, still held back a lack of awareness. In general, it has been businesses that have driven their uptake.

      * Local biomass supply chains need to be established, providing biomass as a feed to customers, but there is also a need for local service companies; 

      * The provision of energy crops needs to be very carefully monitored although there is currently no adequate European framework for taking account of indirect land-use change.

      Other outcomes

      One of the key outcomes from BIO.EN.AREA are the Guidelines for drafting regional Bio-energy Action Plans, which provide a hands-on template for regional authorities wishing to boost their bio-energy sector. The guidelines cover the different concepts related to bio-energy: a) resources (forestry, agricultural and related industries, urban biomass and energy crops), b) biofuel production (solids, liquids and gas) and c) energy applications (heat, electricity and transport) as well as regional aspects to be analysed, covering technical, environmental, social, business, financial and economic aspects as well as legal and regulatory frameworks, the current energy mix, technology and R&D. The guidelines also make suggestions for target setting, qualitative and quantitative objectives and lay out the measures to be enacted for reaching these targets.

      Based on these Guidelines, the Spanish region Castilla y León has drafted a regional BAP covering policy measures for under the following 8 programmes:

      1. Regulatory framework;

      2. Planning;

      3. Support to business and industrial initiatives;

      4. Traceability and standardisation (of fuel);

      5. Sector development;

      6. Training and employment;

      7. Research, development, innovation and demonstration;

      8. Communication and awareness.


      - The majority of European regions have access to biomass and for many of them, bio-energy represents an excellent opportunity for introducing and developing renewables. In this respect, it is recommendable that the BIO.EN.AREA partners share their experiences with other regions as widely as possible.

      - BIO.EN.AREA should use the information that has been collected and produced in the course of the project and make it available in the form of guidelines and documents that are written in layman’s language. Amongst them should be, at least:

      • An updated version of the guidelines / template for drafting regional bio-energy action plans
      • Summaries of the BAPs that have been produced during the project if possible with commentaries or short interviews with the responsible officials from the regions
      • Best practice collected by BIO.EN.AREA

      - BIO.EN.AREA can benefit from the experiences of already established bio-energy regions, such as the German region Lower Saxony, perhaps Europe’s leading biogas region (see box) and can create synergies with existing European projects and initiatives:

      • To access state-of-the art R&D results in the area of bioenergy;
      • To develop innovation voucher schemes supporting service providers for example in biomass logistics (a complete guide is available from the KIS-PIMS projects);
      • To collaborate on regional eco-innovation, cluster organisations have co-operated in the EcoCluP project. The cluster ESV from Upper Austria, for example, is specialised, amongst others, in biomass, training programmes and boilers.

      Case Study – Niedersachsen, Germany
      Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony) is Germany’s leading RES region, having committed itself to RES development in 1985. Its large agricultural sector makes it an ideal region for the production and use of biogas, and the region currently accounts for a quarter of Germany’s biogas production. This growth was spurred by nationally guaranteed feed-in tariffs, but also regionally available investment subsidies and a biogas training programme for farmers. Proximity to R&D clusters and universities gave an added boost to RES development and regional targets – including the 100% RES towns of Jühnde and Beuchte – have led to strong biogas markets. The population of the region has played a key role in Lower Saxony’s achievements, showing an entrepreneurial spirit and a willingness to develop co-operative structures. Lower Saxony demonstrates that regional targets and adaptation to local conditions can lead to strong RES development. Alongside biogas development, the region has also developed a strong wind energy base.
      Greenovate! Europe elaboration of EU’Oberserv’ER 2011 good practice

  • 1.3. 4POWER

      Regional Initiative Project

      ERDF funding: €1 228 472
      Budget: €1 570 879
      Start date: 1st January 2012
      End date: 31st December 2014
      Partners: 11
      Countries: 9
      Good practices: TBC

      The Offshore Wind (OSW) market is still developing, but it has been recognised that Europe has enough potential in OSW that the energy generated could exceed energy consumed. At present, offshore wind faces a variety of barriers, particularly in finance and a lack of political commitment or policy instruments. 4Power looks to collect successful approaches to the development and regulation of OSW being used by coastal regional governments and to create action plans through dialogue with the wind-energy industry, knowledge institutes and other actors deemed essential for the development of successful policy frameworks. Expected 4Power outputs include an interactive online community of good practices; thematic action plans, regional implementation plans and guidelines on effective policy frameworks for OSW development and on establishing effective implementation through regional OSW triple helices. 

      Good practices

      To date, the project has not begun collecting good practices, something it envisions doing in its second year of operation. It is intended that a mixture of policy practices, transversal initiatives (cross-cutting issues such as technology and R&D), and demonstration projects will be collected. Further, as the project involves learning and experienced regions, practices should be of varying complexity.

      The project has three phases: divergence (regional consultation, comparative analysis); convergence (good practice collection, thematic guidelines), and; translation into strategy (regional strategies, implementation plans, OSW charter). At the time of writing, the project had just completed the divergence stage, having performed regional consultations and PESTEL (Political, Economic, Social, Technical, Environmental, Legal) and SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analyses to determine which topics to tackle and to identify some prerequisites. Good practices will be identified, exploring each of these issues.

      RES success prerequisites

      The above mentioned analyses have resulted in the identification of ten key issues (divided into Frameworks and Implementation), which can also be used to understand prerequisites and barriers for offshore wind:

      Frameworks (legal issues and permits)

      1. Transmission systems operators (TSO), electricity grid and market – the role of TSO in the construction of OSW grids and energy markets are very different in each state and practices must be adapted to each;

      2. Incentive or subsidy system – not all states provide subsidies,  which leads to spatial variability in OSW development   and prevents the transnational development of energy markets;

      3. Permits – applying for a permit can be a long and costly process which needs to be simplified and sped up;

      4. Environmental Impact – regulations require the analysis of OSW impacts to coastal regions, but this can be a complex process, which is variably handled by the state or the developer;

      5. Politicians and governance – politicians need to be influenced to change regulations and to challenge the opponents of offshore wind.

      Implementation (developing companies)

      6. Costs – OSW is expensive in comparison to other types of RES, and both technologies and markets need to be developed to bring costs down;

      7. Education – a lack of skilled personnel in OSW means that there are not enough technicians to facilitate sector growth;

      8. Infrastructure – coastal regions need good infrastructure, such as roads, ports, test facilities (etc.), to implement OSW, taking account of regional geography;

      9. Raising awareness –NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) opposition from local populations can be overcome by communicating costs and benefits to show advantage. Young people should be engaged in the process;

      10. Supply chain and resources – wind turbine production has a large value chain and in some countries key players or resources are not present. Policy changes can help to attract them.

      Difficulties identified

      As the project is in such an early stage, barriers have yet to be identified, outside of the above ten topics, but one particular challenge for OSW is the NIMBY (Not-in-my-back-yard) syndrome. The NIMBY syndrome is more of a problem for on-shore wind than for OSW, but is still a problem around inhabited coastal areas, beaches and areas of natural beauty, where some people may consider the view to be spoilt by wind turbines. Placing turbines further from the shore is one answer to this problem, but this requires greater investment and will need continued R&D in order to develop.

      Permitting is especially complex for OSW, taking into account wildlife, naval transportation and other human uses. These permits are different in each Member State, making it difficult for companies to work internationally. It will take substantial work to develop international markets, which will be helped by technology development; another weakness at present.

      Other outcomes

      4Power has two themes which are mutually reinforcing – creating an efficient policy framework and promoting a favourable business and innovation environment. The former is the main aim of the project, whilst the latter is a positive by-product of the process. By including experienced and learning regions, there are advantageous business opportunities and an increased chance of practice and technology transfer and improvement. Although too early to make firm policy recommendations, the most important challenge in transferring offshore wind is to bring down the cost by finding answers to the ten issues identified and by engaging the main stakeholders (policymakers, business, NGOs, R&D institutes).

      Planning and zoning

      The Schleswig-Holstein (DE) land development plan designates ‘wind energy areas’ for wind farm development. The local government identified 1.5% of its total area that could be used, with the aim of concentrating wind farm development in certain areas only. This approach is designed to allay public concerns that wind turbines may be installed all over the countryside, disturbing communities and the environment. Local stakeholders were heavily involved in the drafting of the plan. A similar approach was taken in Wales, where the Welsh government identified seven ‘Strategic Search Areas’ (SSAs) based on techno-economic, environmental and social factors (including intrusive aspects such as visibility and noise). Stakeholders were consulted and a ranking system was used to identify the most acceptable areas for development.

      Greenovate! Europe elaboration of RENREN good practice


      - Be sure to collect policy practices, not just demonstration projects;

      - Take policy recommendations from RENREN and More4Energy into account;

      - Benefit from and create synergies with existing European projects and initiatives on offshore wind, for example to collaborate with wind clusters (i.e. ECOWINDS) or to access state-of-the-art research in offshore winds with projects such as FLOATGEN (demonstrating floating turbines) and SUPRAPOWER.

  • 1.4. MORE4NRG

      Regional Initiative Project

      ERDF funding: €1 030 689
      Budget: €1 324 559
      Start date: 1st September 2008
      End date: 30th September 2011
      Partners: 12
      Countries: 7
      Good practices: 24

      More4NRG did not limit the RES types that could be explored by its partners, but instead focused on monitoring and improving regional strategies for all RES. The project also aimed to improve energy use through a variety of energy efficiency measures. The key tools for the project were the exchange of good practices and the use of peer reviews, whereby more experienced partners visited less experienced regions to analyse energy strategies and suggest solutions to identified problems.

      Analysis of good practices

      Twenty-four good practices were identified by the project partners. The project collected practices that were specifically focused on RES implementation, but also a variety of practices that were focused on energy efficiency (EE) only, and RES and EE combined (See chart, top). One practice identified was on international involvement in assisting with adaptation to climate change in developing countries.




      Of the good practices with a RES aspect, a breakdown of their categories shows that most of them were trans-sectoral, that is, not focused on any one particular technology type (See right, bottom).

      Outstanding good practices

      1. Energiochi is a contest financed by the Abruzzo region with the aim of teaching school children about the importance of energy efficiency and RETs. Many habits and ways of thinking are formed in childhood, so this project is a strong communication and education tool for preventing later development of ‘NIMBYism’, and promoting future ethical, sustainable consumers. The project was transferred from the Abruzzo region to Maramures.

      2. The Ecological construction of small hydroelectric power plants in Maramures, Romania, demonstrates how to integrate hydropower in an ecologically sustainable manner. The small hydroelectric dams built in Maramures do not use reservoirs, thus preventing negative impacts in water flow. They also use fish ladders for the safe passage of fish through the installations. The practice highlights the importance of balancing human needs with protection of the environment, and can help overcome opposition to small hydro dams. The practice was transferred to Norrbotten, Sweden, in a rare case of a learning region transferring to an advanced region.

      3. Flevoland is a leading region in the use of wind energy, and its process of transferring from first to second generation wind energy is a good practice for updating technology. The second generation wind turbines produce more energy than the first generation, meaning that fewer of them are needed. This is a positive for the region, which is known for its flat, open landscapes. The process of upgrade, through legislation and spatial planning involved local stakeholders and created opportunities for agricultural entrepreneurs to invest in wind energy. The practice highlights that public opinion must be kept in mind, not just at the planning stage, but throughout the operation of RES plants, as well as showing that continued technological upgrading is important.

      RES success prerequisites

      The key prerequisite identified by the More4NRG project was the need to have a regional energy strategy outlining goals and measures to be taken. Such a strategy creates investor confidence and links initiatives together for holistic energy management. A More4NRG study on the necessary framework for generating development of, and investment in, regional renewable energy infrastructures identified the following guidelines for producing a regional energy strategy:

      1. Ensure that various regional activities related to the fight against climate change and development of clean energy are consistent and well-co-ordinated; policy instruments should supplement each other in the effort to enhance existing synergies;

      2. Increase the predictability of the energy market by providing long-term policy guarantees and by making information on existing investment opportunities more available and transparent;

      3. Help maximise the uptake of business opportunities;

      4. Guarantee that key policy measures are fully supported by proportionate budgetary means.

      Political commitment was regarded as essential for the success of RES projects, with regions urged to sign a political ‘concordat’ as part of the process of putting in place a strategy. By reaching a political agreement involving as many key stakeholders as possible (through peer reviews, for example), energy strategies are more likely to survive changes of government.

      Although regions should have a RES mix that will be able to provide energy in all conditions, it is vital to take account of the local environment and respond to it correctly. As seen with wind energy in Flevoland, specialisation means that communications, investments and efforts can be focused onto the resource that will provide optimal energy production, thus developing the local market quickly.

      Difficulties identified

      The main barrier for RES uptake identified by the project partners was the lack of an energy strategy. Legal limitations and inefficient administrative issues were also blockages. Peer reviews were a good tool for the process of identifying initial weaknesses and suggesting quick responses.

      It was also noted that regional authorities have conflicting roles in spatial planning and RES promotion. Planning permission application procedures and consultation must be carried through fully, and fairly, before the implementation of RES projects. If the process is not seen to be transparent and if communication is poor, then it can lead to resistance in the region.

      As an aside, the More4NRG co-ordinator noted that the process of transferring and implementing renewable energy projects can be a very long one, and transfer is not a direct one-to-one process. Practices can be used as inspiration, but there is not a sufficient framework established for the quick transfer of good practices.

      Other outcomes

      Perhaps the best practice from the project was the process of peer review. An energy peer review is a mentoring visit, undertaken by a group of experts to a region that is interested in RES. The visitors review the generation and use of energy in the region, focusing on areas defined by the hosts, to help local authorities to make improvements to their regional energy system. The reviewers make site visits, and meet with important stakeholders in the region such as legislators, market operators, local development agencies, business leaders and consumer associations. The peer review has a pre-defined methodology, based on a checklist which describes what an ‘ideal’ regional authority would do, according to  global best practice. Including politicians in the process was found to be a good strategy, as politicians are often happier to take recommendations from outside experts than from local civil servants. The comprehensive peer review methodology should be made available to, and used by, other projects.

      Emerging Markets
      Institutional support

      The Maramures (RO) Energy Management Agency was created to contribute to the county’s sustainable development by promoting energy efficiency, energy management and the use of RES. It helps local authorities to formulate strategies and policies for developing RES, as well as focusing on environmental education. The Agency was created with the assistance of the Intelligent Energy Europe (IEE) programme, using finance from the European Commission and the Maramures County Council. The Agency will initiate five RES projects, certify 15 public buildings for energy efficiency, sign six co-operative agreements with external partners and create an inventory of energy consumption and production to assist in developing future projects and an energy master plan.

      Greenovate! Europe elaboration of More4NRG good practice

      The energy strategy of Gabrovo (Bulgaria) region is a strong outcome of the project. The region did not previously have a comprehensive energy strategy, but following a peer review process, a strategy was drawn up with long-term priorities and in line with national priorities and law. The peer review process allowed for the creation of the strategy, with a clear focus on specific regional challenges and context. The input of external experts in the peer review was hugely beneficial to the creation of the strategy.

      In order to implement energy strategies, a study by the project recommends the creation of triple-helix Regional Energy Research and Innovation Clusters (RERICs) to bring together government, industry and regional transmission organisations (RTOs), and gain the necessary critical mass of trained and educated people needed to manage and consolidate regional knowledge and expertise.37 The RERIC could develop regional energy action plans and assign funds from operating programmes, create a one-stop shop for investors, monitor supply, demand and cost of energy, act as an expert think-tank and conduct research.


      - Continue to develop and promote the peer review methodology through Regions4GreenGrowth, and if possible, through other projects; it is a very strong methodology for the sharing of experience and good practices.

      - The partners should continue to promote the triple-helix RERIC concept. The idea of regional one-stop shops for energy matters would help to stimulate investments in regional RES and encourage coherent planning and commitments in terms of regional strategies and spending. The triple-helix constitutes best practice in cluster development policy.

  • 1.5. Regions4GreenGrowth

      Regional Initiative Project

      ERDF funding: €1 707 203
      Budget: €2 200 607
      Start date: 1st January 2012
      End date:  31st December 2014
      Partners: 15
      Countries: 10
      Good practices: 21

      Regions4GreenGrowth did not target a specific technology type in its exploration of good practices, but focused instead on the issues of access to finance and how to speed up investment. At the time of writing, the project had completed a collection of good practices but has yet to proceed with transfer and detailed analysis. Like More4NRG, which had the same project leader, Regions4GreenGrowth uses peer reviews, but unlike its predecessor, all regions will act as hosts, producing fifteen peer reviews to analyse specific challenges related to the financing of RES projects and present tailored packages of instruments and actions to help achieve regional targets. Master Classes have been arranged to act as capacity building tools.

      Analysis of good practices

      Twenty one good practices have been identified by the project partners. As the chart (top) shows, the project collected practices mostly on RES and energy efficiency.  The ‘Other’ category includes a general scheme to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into a Swedish region and a system of Cycle Paths in Romania which aims to decrease CO2 emissions in the region.





      As with More4NRG, a breakdown of RES practices (right, bottom) shows that the largest group were not focused on one particular technology type, suggesting broad transferability of conclusions from good practice analysis.

      Practice transfer will be visible in the final implementation plans produced from the peer review process, and transfer has not yet begun. However, the Swedish FDI programme has been an inspiration for Valencia, and recommendations from the Swedish experience have been included in its peer review.

      Outstanding good practices

      1. The Greater Manchester Low Carbon Investment Pipeline is a scheme for achieving a 48% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2020 through a Low-Carbon Economic Area (LCEA) plan. The LCEA programme board recognised that a common approach was needed to avoid duplication of effort, optimise use of resources and create large-scale projects that could attract investors. A part of this strategy was to create investment portfolios with both large and small projects included. Small-scale green investments can often have low returns, and it can be difficult to attract investment. The private sector is invited to invest in an Investment Fund, which can be used to fund projects in the pipeline, rather than having to seek investment for individual projects. Such a system allows for the prioritisation of investments by the region.

      2. Flevoland directly supports leading players and innovative SMEs with its technological environment innovation subsidy, which aims to encourage SMEs to innovate and work sustainably. Companies can apply for the subsidy to assist with the financing of environmental, and innovative technological projects. Sustainability relies on local synergies, so having sustainable local businesses and entrepreneurs to drive market growth is an essential prerequisite for future renewable development. Funding is 30% of total costs, with the SME expected to provide the rest to show credible commitment. The subsidy has been awarded to twenty companies, creating fifty new jobs.

      3. The city of Baia Sprie established a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) for a photovoltaic energy park to provide sustainable energy for its citizens. The project was initially approved for financing from the structural funds, but was put on a waiting list. Therefore, other financing possibilities were sought. The city provided land for the installation, as well as planning permission, in exchange for 5% of shares in the project company, with the possibility to buy up to 15%. The private partner made all the other investments for 85% of the project company. Profits will be shared in relation to share ownership.

      RES success prerequisites

      At the time of writing, the Regions4GreenGrowth project still had two years left in which to find and analyse practices and, from a financial support angle, Regions4GreenGrowth felt it was too early to make solid recommendations for prerequisites. They did, however, agree with the ones identified by More4NRG -  regional energy strategies, political commitment and regional specialisation - as a few of the good practices identified were regional planning documents, either for all RES types or for one in particular, whilst other practices were identified as fitting into parts of other frameworks.

      It was suggested that the implementation of Public-Private partnerships and funding portfolios would emerge as key recommendations and that the involvement of the private sector would be a prerequisite. This certainly plays out in the identified good practices where cooperation between public authorities and business investors arises several times.

      The good practices also reveal communication and community-oriented action to be essential. Securing community buy-in is a strong way to overcome the NIMBY problem; either by communicating the good of a RES installation or ensuring that the local population benefits financially.

      Difficulties identified

      The main difficulty identified was the current economic climate, in which receiving investment is a major challenge. This is not specific to RES but is instead affecting all business areas. Ideally, public authorities should be stepping in to invest in technologies for the future, but this is not always politically feasible. In this case, innovative ways of attracting private investment should be found. Regions lacking political commitment, or with public opposition find it very difficult to implement renewable energy projects. This is especially the case in finance, where, if investment is high, it can become a sensitive political issue.

      As noted by other projects, direct transfer rarely happens; instead, only inspiration is transferred. Implementing big and ambitious projects can be far too difficult for regions just beginning in RES implementation. A related problem for beginner regions is the presence of complex legislation, which takes time to adjust and change. Legislation can block planning processes, add outdated requirements to public procurement and prevent the creation of public-private partnerships. Excessive bureaucracy in beginner regions can be a major cause of slow RES development, which is especially damaging for investment.

      Other outcomes

      The main outcome of the project is intended to be the peer reviews and their resulting recommendations and implementation plans.  The peer review exercise, as also used in More4NRG is again proving itself to be a very useful methodology for RES promotion. Its success in the previous project has meant that in Regions4GreenGrowth, all partners are using peer reviews to improve their regional strategies. At the time of writing, only one peer review had been fully completed (for the region of Valencia).

      Mature Markets
      University programmes

      In 2007, five universities in the Lazio region (IT) introduced courses dedicated to renewable energy sources and energy efficiency after signing an agreement with the regional authority. The courses are available to students in a wide number of disciplines to encourage maximum dissemination of knowledge on the subject, even to non-scientific students. At one university, passing an exam on sustainable energy is a prerequisite for a degree, regardless of the faculty of study. Extending the course to non-scientific faculties brings in other areas important to the growth of sustainable energy, such as law, economic and social sciences. The universities have also created e-learning platforms, dedicated websites and training materials, as well as installing a photovoltaic plant for demonstration purposes.

      Greenovate! Europe elaboration of More4NRG good practice

      Two recommendations of interest were to promote the Energy Service Company (ESCo) business model and to create loans with public money, rather than grants. An ESCo will provide the investment for energy efficiency and RES installations and then make a return based on the final energy savings made. Therefore, it is funded by energy savings made by the customer. ESCo operations should be defined by a regional authority to undertake certification of projects and assist in funding with government grants.

      For public financial support, reliance on grants can have a negative outcome, as the public makes investments and then sees no tangible return. Using the money to create loans is an alternative financing model whereby returns are made (perhaps with a small percentage of interest) to be used for future investment. As with co-financing, a loan scheme would require credible commitment from an entrepreneur.


      - Search for innovative financial models, such as community schemes. Good examples have been found in Schleswig-Holstein and in Wales (RENREN), as well as in the RESTOR project.

      - Innovation voucher schemes are an interesting tool for financing innovative renewables. Ideas on how to develop and implement voucher schemes for renewables are available from the KIS-PIMS project, but also from GreenConServe and REMake.

      - Considering the current economic climate, the initial findings made in the Valencia peer review should definitely be circulated more widely. Green loans from local authorities (rather than grants) and ESCos are proven tools that have so far, unfortunately, received only limited uptake.

  • 1.6. RENREN

      Regional Initiative Project

      ERDF funding: €1 646 507
      Budget: €2 095 360
      Start date: 1st January 2010
      End date: 31st December 2012
      Partners: 14
      Countries: 12
      Good practices: 54

      RENREN (the Renewable Energy Regions Network) aimed to improve regional policies in RES to optimise existing frameworks, as well as establish strategic cooperation between regions for new approaches, projects and solutions.  This was achieved through the exchange of good practices and experiences. The project included experienced regions with expertise in wind, hydropower, solar-thermal, photovoltaic, biomass, geothermal and ocean energy, as well as learning regions

      RENREN made recommendations and selected case studies for both ‘learning’ and ‘experienced’ regions. However, it was understood that every region was a learning region in at least one type of RES.

      Analysis of good practices

      The RENREN partners identified 54 policy practices. All practices were policy instruments, and the majority of practices were trans-sectoral (including energy efficiency practices) followed by sector-related practices from biomass and wind.

      RENREN was the only project to identify marine/ocean energy practices, both of which were in Wales. The practices were strategic initiatives (preparatory actions and spatial planning) designed to allow for capitalisation on future opportunities once the technology has developed more.

      At its final conference, the project published a comprehensive booklet with all policy practices grouped according to the following major project topics:

      * Strategic planning for RES at regional level

      * Permits and compliance

      * Fostering job market, RTD and innovation

      * Finance and incentives.

      Outstanding good practices

      1. Zoning for on-shore wind was identified as a good practice by both Wales and Schleswig-Holstein. The aim is to concentrate wind power into controlled areas and ease people’s concerns about visual impact. The NIMBY syndrome is a big issue for wind farm development, and planning is a politically sensitive issue. By concentrating installation into one area, local people can be assured that wind farms will not emerge all over the countryside. Zoning designates land usage based on an analysis of electricity production potential, local acceptability, environmental impact, and other such categories of concern, giving a higher chance of acceptance of the technology.

      2. To further mitigate the NIMBY concern, Schleswig-Holstein has promoted the emergence of Community owned windfarms. Such windfarms can be entirely community initiated and funded or have some government involvement and have been developing in Schleswig-Holstein for some years. The first community owned off-shore windfarm is currently being planned. All local citizens are able to join the co-operative, even with a small investment. The farms are funded by the community, requiring an equity position of 20%, with the remaining finance provided by local institutions and authorities. Community windfarms bring a variety of benefits to a region, especially in terms of construction and operational jobs.

      3. Small hydropower plants had been widely used in Andalucía until the 1960s, when many were abandoned. Restoring abandoned small hydropower was identified as a good way to meet RES targets at a minimal cost, and with limited legal difficulty.  With much of the infrastructure in place, investment costs were not as high as building new plants and permitting processes were less complex. Small hydropower, despite mitigation practices, is often, inaccurately, considered environmentally damaging and can face public opposition. Restoring existing plants can lessen such resistance. The restoration process occurred following a comprehensive survey of the region. Once identified, the regional energy agency promoted the  restoration of existing plants to investors, who could recoup investment through an existing feed-in-tariff.

      RES success prerequisites

      A important pre-requisite for any region aiming to develop renewables is a clear commitment to RES implementation, followed by a regional RES strategy, tailored to region. For ‘learning’ regions that are starting with the development of policies for renewables, the first strategy should focus on one RES, following analysis to determine which would be most effective and best suited to the region. Regions must concentrate on the source that can have fastest, strongest, initial growth. To facilitate this, a regional strategy should contain quantitative targets.

      Difficulties identified

      The RENREN project identified four main difficulties in the implementation of the project with regard to renewables:

      1. For regions without an energy strategy (and thus missing long-term political commitment or targets for renewable energy), it has been difficult to implement and transfer suitable practices. Strategies and regional action plans need to be developed with stakeholder involvement.

      2. Missing grid infrastructure and storage capacity for renewables need to be put in place (or developed) often in collaboration with neighbouring regions, or at a national level.

      3. A lack of regional data and information on renewables has been a problem for the RENREN partners. There is a strong interest in data (for example to provide benchmarks for the development of regional strategies). The data is not currently collected, and Eurostat should be encouraged to begin collection at the regional level.

      4. Implementation is the hardest part of INTERREG IVC projects, and it was felt that too much time is spent doing preparatory work such as indentifying good practices. Projects are a maximum of three years in duration, with no chance of extension. A prolongation of the projects should be considered, with the same budget as present, to allow more time for implementation and transfer.

      Other outcomes

      The project partners produced a comparative analysis monitoring tool to establish what counted as a good practice and what factors were acting as bottlenecks. It was found that bottlenecks were almost identical in every region: storage, grids and infrastructure. Similarly, most regions had similar support frameworks: local climate plans, permitting, local networks and incentives.

      Apart from the publication of good practices, a booklet of policy recommendations, “to accelerate the implementation of RES across the regions” has been produced. The recommendations present a wide range of policy instruments, procedures, processes and structures that are useful for renewables policy making. In addition to RES specific recommendations (biomass & geothermal, wind, ocean hydro and solar-thermal, PV and CSP), policy recommendations have been made that apply to both learning and experienced regions. The main chapters under which these recommendations can be summarised are as follows:

      1. Institutionalise renewable energy (committing to RES by setting goals and objectives; providing a guiding framework; establishing regional RES management and communication structures);

      2. Increase the success rate at the project development phase (Using spatial planning as a strategic tool for RES development; providing information & guidance for developers; reducing complexity of the permitting process; increasing transparency of the permitting process);

      3. Use RES as a motor for jobs & driving innovation (Qualifications & skills - key to attracting jobs in a region; creating and using cooperation opportunities within and beyond your region; fostering innovation by integrating existing and/or new research facilities in your regional strategy);

      4. Incentivise the use of renewable energy in your region (Supply & demand standards for the use of RES ; providing incentives to use RES by demonstrating its benefit and added values; reviewing specific RES use for transport & mobility; awarding forerunners)

      5. Facilitate access to finance (Mobilising EU funds & programmes for regional RES projects; creating demand - use Public Procurement as a (strategic) tool; leveraging private money).

      Another key output of the project is the RENREN declaration in which the partners link the major challenges facing regional RE deployment with the achievements of the project. The aim is to continue to develop solutions in these areas and further develop RENREN to enable key regional governmental bodies to exchange experiences and establish cooperation.

      Commitment and planning
      Regional RES strategy and policy

      Marine energy is a relatively untapped energy source, with technology still in the development stages. Despite this, the Welsh government (UK) is seeking to capitalise on the future opportunities of the sector by adopting a forward-looking approach. A planning document, ‘Wales: A Low-Carbon Revolution’, has set a target of 4GW of energy from marine sources by 2025. Current policy is focused on marine energy exploration, zoning and licensing, designing planning processes and compiling data. The planning exercise has shown the commitment of the Welsh government to marine energy, created working relationships between stakeholders and established a framework for the eventual growth of the industry.

      Greenovate! Europe elaboration of RENREN good practice


      - RENREN should continue to promote the results and policy instruments identified by the project, particularly to partners in INTERREG IVC projects working in the area of renewables;

      - Particular attention should be paid to the promotion of community schemes such as those found in the RENREN best practices for wind power;

      - For the promotion of community schemes and to support the best practice ‘Recovering small hydros’ from RENREN partner Andalusia, it could be interesting to find synergies with the RESTOR (Renewable Energy Sources Transforming Our Regions) Hydro project, which is funded by the Intelligent Energy Europe (IEE) programme. This project has fully explored the topic of restoring old hydropower installations, especially the replicable model for regional authorities that the project is intending to produce. RESTOR focuses on the advantages that bringing technology back on-line and decentralised energy production can have on community development, therefore having a similar regional focus.

  • 1.7. RETS

      Regional Initiative Project

      ERDF funding: €1 484 054
      Budget: €1 908 715
      Start date: 1st January 2010
      End date: 31st June 2012
      Partners: 12
      Countries: 9
      Good practices: 55

      The Renewable Energies Transfer System (RETS) aimed to improve the knowledge and competencies of local and regional policymakers (especially in regions with a population of less than 25 000) in renewable energy systems to facilitate a greater deployment of renewable energy policies at regional level. Partners work in association with the experts from existing competency centres that produce research and provide services on renewable energies.

      Small regional authorities have specific difficulties related to RES uptake, in terms of territorial competitiveness and project management skills for implementing complex RES practices. The core of the project was to create simple, usable tools for local authorities designed to help them to make informed choices regarding implementing projects for an efficient and effective energy-mix.

      Analysis of good practices

      Fifty-five good practices were identified by the project partners.

      The project collected 52 practices that were specifically focused on RES implementation, and three that looked at energy efficiency measures. In terms of a breakdown by RES technology, the majority of practices were trans-sectoral, however, sector-specific best practices for solar energy, biomass, geo-thermal energy, wind, and one hydro practice was also described.

      Outstanding good practices

      1. The Derbi Competitiveness Cluster was created in 2005 and is a network of 71 clusters. It is made up of companies, laboratories, universities and local authorities in a triple-helix structure, with many of its members being small organisations that can cooperate on projects (around 80% are SMEs.) Its objectives are to boost the creation of green goods and services and develop the regional renewable energy industry by connecting research with SMEs. The Pole shows that small companies can make a profit from RES and green development, which is essential for achieving critical mass.

      2. The Cwmni Gwynt Teg (Fair Wind Company) operates a community wind farm in Moel Maelogan, Wales. The company is a co-operative set up by three farming families with the intention of overcoming decline in the rural economy and providing future income for their families by diversifying their income. The local community was involved in the development of the project, with the installation of three wind turbines. After this, nine more turbines were planned in a second phase expansion, with the local community able to invest through a bond scheme. Some local opposition was encountered, especially in the second phase of the project, but by sharing the benefits of the development, much was overcome.

      3. Sitaard-Geleen Biomass central is a private initiative by a local entrepreneur that uses biomass waste in the cogeneration of heat and electricity. A deal was struck with the local electricity company to secure grid access, and the price of electricity and heating from the system is the same for the residents as before, so they do not pay extra for the implementation of the system. The municipality did make a small investment in the installation, but in return, it now has a way to treat its biomass waste. In order to secure supply of fuel, a green waste collection service was established, representing a useful and profitable synergy.

      RES success prerequisites

      An important pre-requisite for the success of renewables is communication on how renewable energy is good for the local economy. To this end, the integration of stakeholders is essential, including local authorities, community development agencies, business owners, farmers, economic agencies, etc.

      To enable the transfer of good practices, they need to be broken down into constituent parts and mapped onto the new region so that they can be built locally. This involves matching stakeholders – finding an organisation in the ‘new’ region that can carry out the roles of an equivalent organisation in the ‘old’ region. Here, a ‘blended learning approach’ is essential; even experts need bottom-up training in order to see outcomes. A good practice cannot be transferred directly – the knowledge and model from a practice can be transferred, but own partnerships need to be developed. It is important to transfer instead the building blocks of process, knowledge, framework, management training, etc.

      Difficulties identified

      The main challenges for RES deployment are at local authority, not regional, level. One answer to the challenges is to combine a local authority with an expert centre and local stakeholders in a triple helix structure. This creates a forum for discussion, and stakeholder involvement ensures that local difficulties can be overcome. Infrastructure issues and cross-border co-operation cannot be solved at the regional level. The EU must create this infrastructure and a single energy market.

      Another key issue is the difficulties involved in transferring best practice. It involves change management at every level; from policymakers to civil servants, companies and economic associations. In RETS, this process was not clear at the beginning of the project and had to be developed step by step. It took almost three years before RETS had outlined a transfer process. The project partners concluded that three years is too short to transfer policy practices and that for the local development of renewables projects – not just regional recommendations - more time is needed. It would be good to be able to have access to the same team; same managers, civil servants, and so on, for 4-5 years.

      In general, transfer by technology push is wrong. The main challenge that needs to be overcome is in fact training and management. In the view of the RETS project, the success comes down, almost entirely, to the skills of the project manager, who needs to be open and willing to accept challenging targets. Local authorities are much more likely to work with those who show project management skills and dedication. There is a shortage of skilled renewable energy project managers, and there needs to be training at the European level for such positions. RETS has produced a variety of training manuals and is pursuing a range of educational outputs.

      Other outcomes

      A RETS community wiki was developed to manage communications between partners. The RENREN project was given access to the database, which was a good way to get the projects to work together, but interaction could have been more in-depth. The platform acted as a gateway between activities, and became a way to link best practice databases.

      Along with identifying good practices, the RETS partners also took part in 37 events (site visits and seminars) with the intention of sharing experiences. The collective knowledge gained led to the inclusion of several policy recommendations in the project’s final brochure, many reflecting the RETS-specific focus on energy management, particularly for small and rural local authorities.

      Recommendations included that local authorities develop green loan systems and put in place local tax incentives for green growth and sustainable entrepreneurship. In order to overcome the ‘owner-tenant’ dilemma (also experienced in Geo.Power), it was recommended that partnerships of local authorities, social landlords and housing associations be created, with financial incentives developed for retrofitting the existing housing stock.

      One particular area of strength for the RETS project was its focus on educational issues. The RETS partners recommend that local authorities work in close partnership with colleges and universities to identify and develop appropriate training packages and courses for professional development. (For an example, see box, right). It was also recommended that individuals be trained in ‘energy bookkeeping’, in order to provide a house-to-house service for reviewing energy use.

      Emerging Markets
      Capacity building through training programmes

      COPROTEC (Alsace, FR) equips energy professionals with a set of tools enabling them to understand what is happening in traditional and new energy markets. The company is the result of a public-private partnership and has been designated as a National Innovation Centre by the French Minister for Trade. COPROTEC instructors have backgrounds in energy and climate engineering, and tackle issues ranging from marketing clean energy to technical application. Training is provided either at the COPROTEC headquarters which have workshops for practical activities, or anywhere else in the region using specially adapted vehicles, fitted with the materials needed for learning to design energy sources. These courses award certificates and offer online support to keep people up-to-date with new developments.

      Greenovate! Europe elaboration of RETS good practice

      Further in line with this educational and awareness-raising campaign, it was recommended that local authorities create regional agencies to provide free, unbiased local energy advice services to advise people on energy efficiency and RES.


      - RETS should promote its results and policy instruments to other partners in INTERREG IVC projects working in the area of renewables;

      - The RETS wiki provides a valuable source of knowledge and should be developed further, with access granted to others outside of the project;

      - Educational practices identified by the project were particularly strong. Few other projects put such a focus on the importance of human capital. Regional education policies should be further developed in order to make local RES possible;

      - Both RETS and Geo.Power showed concerns over the ‘owner-tenant’ dilemma in retrofitting housing. The RETS project partners should contact the Geo.Power partners and discuss their practices and findings on the issue;

      - The RETS process of ‘building block’ transfer should be developed into a full methodology that can be made available to other projects to facilitate the expansion of sustainable good practices (not only in RES).

2. Thematic analysis

Building on the individual project analysis, this section of the report introduces the thematic capitalisation analysis. It uses the analytical framework explained in Chapter 1 in order to draw out broader conclusions on transferring RES good practices.

  • Common features and successes
    • Interviews with representatives of the projects pointed mostly towards generic features and successes. This is because it is often difficult to see the results of good practice transfer, which can be a long and slow process.

      However, the collection of a substantial number of good practices can be considered a success in itself. The good practice collection, although not necessarily leading to direct transfer, was identified by interviewees as a valuable exercise that can raise awareness of RES potential. The projects have used the 212 practices collected for the development of policy recommendations and as an inspiration for RES policy development in their region. One evident feature was that most of the practices collected were representative of the Emerging Markets phase of the development cycle. Of the 212 practices collected, 155 were from this stage. The Commitment and Planning and Mature Market phases were represented, though neither to a substantial degree. The Saturated Market phase was represented by only six good practices.

      The sector-specific projects emphasised the collection of best practices that demonstrate the application of different RES technologies and technical displays, while those projects taking all renewables into account focused more on the collection of policy practices and support instruments.

      Considering the complexity of the topic, RES projects have undergone a very impressive and successful learning process regarding different technologies and how they work, as well as learning about a wide range of policy instruments used for the introduction and promotion of RES in the regional context.

      Best practices are a great way of raising the awareness about the potential of renewable energy technologies.”

      Marco Meggiolaro
      Co-ordinator GEO.POWER

      The learning process reached out to project participants as well as to local stakeholders by involving them in project activities, such as study visits, peer reviews, workshops and seminars. This will raise the awareness of RES and their potential for the local economy. The INTERREG IVC programme had a strong geographical reach, reaching out to 57 NUTS2 regions (21% of the 271 regions. total) in the EU. This should be considered a real success.

      In addition, the finalised projects have drawn up policy recommendations that should be used for designing future policy instruments, not only at regional level such as the development of smart specialisation strategies but also at European level in developing thematic approaches, for example, for the Structural and Cohesion Funds. The policy recommendations (and RES plans) produced can be seen as evidence of a very successful learning process.

  • Common challenges and difficulties
    • When it comes to common challenges for both experienced and less experienced regions, there is still an enormous lack of information and awareness about RES technologies as well as about legislation and policy instruments that can be used to establish and expand their use. The main challenge for RES projects is to raise awareness about the potential of renewable energies for the regional economy and to establish a common knowledge base on which to build and expand.

      Saturated Markets
      Clusters of international scope

      Noord-Brabant (NL) has invested in knowledge infrastructure and innovation activities to create an internationally competitive solar industry. The province identified regional strengths in solar technology and then worked with stakeholders throughout the whole innovation value chain to support the industry. A cluster working on thin film solar PV technology was created by combining four separate R&D institutes together. A regional innovation scheme, operated by a regional development agency, helps to bring the research produced by the cluster to market through training and provision of financial assistance to start-ups. The cluster and business support services together contribute to the goals set out in Noord-Brabant’s 2010-2020 roadmap, which encompasses a variety of energy themes.

      Greenovate! Europe elaboration of Regions4GreenGrowth good practice

      Long-term political commitment and a stable legal framework are vital for planning and investing in renewable energy. A lack of legal certainty will block implementation of RES projects and undermine investor confidence, be it for a venture capitalist or an individual house owner. In order to introduce new policies and to transfer policy instruments, the projects have to get involved in the formulation and development of political will and interest. This process is long and very much depends on the willingness and involvement of individual politicians. Obtaining political commitment and legal stability therefore remains a major, ongoing challenge for all RES projects. Each of the projects found that it was difficult to transfer best practices but agreed that they are formidable tools to get inspiration for own RES policy development and to promote renewable energy generally. The difficulties in transferring best practices are linked to different factors.

  • Difficulties in transferability of good practices
    • All projects confirmed that it is nearly impossible to transfer entire practices. Best practices have to be broken down into their core elements and then adapted to different regional frameworks. The transfer of best practices in ‘policy development and tools’ often requires the right political moment, in line with current political trends and aspirations. If the practice is proposed too early or too late it may be impossible to transfer. It is therefore of the utmost importance that the (permanent) regional administration is aware of the practice, finds it useful, adapts it to its specific circumstances and finds the right moments with the right (yet temporary) politicians in order to actually complete the transfer. This process takes time and needs persistence and is often only successful because a local administrator is convinced by the practice and drives the transfer process on a long-term basis.

      “The four pillars that need to be in place for a successful transfer are the ‘basics’ (infrastructure, functioning legal and financial systems), technology (whether imported or produced locally), people (political will and regional education) and business (investors, finance, tech skills and specialisation).”

      Hans Hoogma

      Best practices of a more technical character often face the ‘not invented here’ syndrome and need to evaluate all risks under local conditions in order to demonstrate that they function in a different regional context. A showcase or demonstration practice is therefore often an appropriate means to carry out this risk evaluation and promote the RES technology. It should also be noted that some of the most impressive and complex good practices cannot be transferred. An example is ‘Arlanda Airport’ (GEO.POWER). The project partners showed a very high interest in this good practice, however, due to the complexity and the extremely high investment volume of the practice, it has been identified as being the least transferable.

      Another factor that can impede the transfer of best practices is time. The change from a well-established, centralised energy system based on fossil fuels to a decentralised renewable energy system is a major undertaking that encounters a lot of resistance, making the change process very complex and time intensive.

      Those projects that had been completed or nearly completed at the time of writing underlined that they were short of time for implementation. While the project partners are committed to continue working on the implementation once the project is finished, the focus provided by a European project is often gone and people that worked on the project will have moved on to other tasks. It was explained that a longer project duration would not necessarily mean additional financing but that a project prolongation by one or two years would help – particularly in the political and legislative process – to complete the transfer of policy measures and instruments.

  • Common best practices
    • In total, 212 good practices were identified by the projects. It should be remembered that good practices are still unavailable from the 4Power project. These practices, when taken together to find synergies can identify much that can be of use to other regions in Europe. The collected good practices are presented in short form in the Annexe. Full versions are available from the project websites. The chart, right, shows the distribution of the good practices that were identified, according to the Member State in which they were found. The N/A section of the chart accounts for international practices.

      The strong presence of certain countries – Spain (26), Italy (21), Germany (19) and the UK (18) – is to be expected, as they are some of the larger Member States, but Sweden’s practice share (24) particularly stands out, supporting its reputation as a leading country in RES deployment. As a whole, newer Member States have had a weaker showing, although Romania (16) and Hungary (15) provided a substantial amount of practices.

      The bar chart above shows the RES sub-sectors covered by identified good practices. Bio-energy was the most prevalent RE sector covered, followed by geo-thermal energy. As both bioenergy and geo-thermal energy had dedicated projects (BIO.EN.AREA and GEO.POWER), this finding is perhaps not so surprising. In the projects addressing all renewables, wind, solar and biomass are generally present. Practices fall into two types; those which focus on an RES type, and those which are applicable to multiple RES types, such as investment support policies. As a very closely linked field, there were 14 practices that discussed energy efficiency (EE) measures and 20 that discussed RES and energy efficiency together.

  • Division of practices into technology field
    • In terms of the development cycle/analytical tool (Table 2), the bulk of collected good practices (73%) fall under the ‘emerging markets’ classification, and within this, ‘Demo investment in proven RES solutions, is the most dominant, representing 101 of the 155 ‘emerging markets’ practices and 48% of all practices together. The table below represents the identified good practices according to development stage.




      Table 8 – Division of good practices by policy type and Development Cycle stage (see Table 2)
      Commitment and Planning26Mature Markets25

      Analysis of market and SWOT

      Debates with key stakeholders

      Regional RES strategy and policy

      Public information campaign





      More ambitious RES targets


      Commitment to R&D

      Triple helix clusters

      University programmes

      Support  to innovation and start-ups







      Emerging Markets155Saturated Markets6

      Awareness raising

      Demo investments (w/GPP)

      Capacity building

      Local ownership

      Cluster development

      Support for investors

      Financing instruments

      Permits and planning









      Innovative demo investment

      Involvement of world leading companies

      EU leading R&D centres




  • Different solutions to the same issue
    • The projects have identified a large number of different practices, approaches and solutions to address policy challenges.

      By far the most prominent common policy measures were regional strategies, target setting, roadmaps and financing instruments, the latter category being split into a variety of measures, including loans, subsidies and tariffs. Regional strategies focused on either individual RES technologies or on broader RES targets, leaving scope for the uptake of several technology types. Others were energy or climate packages; with RES just a small part of the content.

      Clusters were a popular measure, in both early and advanced stages. Mature markets had developed stronger clusters, identifiable by their triple-helix structure (public authorities, private enterprises and research organisations), whilst emerging markets showed regional authorities working with either research institutions or businesses (support for investors, financing instruments, cluster development).

      Other widespread solutions were practices for communication and awareness raising throughout the cycle. It does not only concern practices marked as ‘communication’ though, with publicity aspects present in many of the other practices. For example, a key part of demonstration projects is awareness-raising.

      “Success is due to dedicated management and the involvement of regional authorities.”

      Catherine Ledig
      RETS Co-ordinator

      There were very few practices provided that were indicative of saturated markets, a logical result as these markets take a long time to develop and, once developed, are often only in one RES type, such as wind power in Flevoland and bio-energy in South East Ireland.

  • Innovative practices and policies
    • There are a large number of very interesting best practices available. However, three practices stand out as particularly interesting for the development of renewable energy regions and deserve to be made available to other regions. Whilst many of the other good practices identified were reliant on private players, these three practices successfully highlight the role that regional authorities can play in RES uptake. Further, these practices show high growth potentials and indicate innovative approaches to overcoming the most frequent barriers to uptake: access to finance and NIMBY resistance:

      • The Manchester investment pipeline (Regions4GreenGrowth) creates portfolios of sustainable investments and is a promising practice for financing renewable energy developments and innovative technologies.  The programme was established as part of a larger regional initiative to make Manchester a greener and more economically prosperous city.  The practice has large potential for transfer, as long as regional governments are willing and able to implement such programmes.

      • Community windfarms and projects, such as in Schleswig-Holstein (RENREN) and the Cwmni Gwynt Teg, Wales (RETS), highlight that renewable energies can play an important role in regional economies. The move towards decentralised ownership of energy generation equipment will boost the uptake of RES by spreading financial gains around, thus reducing regional resistance. However, such developments rarely happen spontaneously. In particular for wind energy, spatial planning and permitting play a large role. As with most RES, guaranteed feed-in tariffs and long-term security are also required.

      • The Sittard-Geleen PPP on biomass boilers (‘Biomass Central’) (RETS) represents a very good practice for district heating; a technology with huge growth potential. Renewable heating and cooling remains the sleeping giant of the RES world, as yet not fully explored or implemented. District heating will gain more prominence in relation to many upcoming Smart Cities initiatives and can be applied at a variety of scales. Although Biomass Central was started by a private partner, as a PPP it shows that there is a clear role for public authorities to play in matters surrounding installation of this infrastructure.

  • Particularly interesting results
    • Planning and zoning

      The Environment Agency of England and Wales has created a streamlined application process for small hydropower and provided transparent sources of data for developers to support applications. Hydropower installations need government permits on environmental issues such as water abstraction and impoundment, flood risk and fish passage. The Environment Agency has created maps that highlight opportunities and areas of environmental sensitivity for hydropower in an effort to support the development of sustainable hydropower. The open-access online resource can inform installers of the environmental conditions in an area, giving an indication of whether consents are likely to be given or not. The Environment Agency has also provided a simplified application with a pre-application phase, and provides guidance on planning and the application process.

      Greenovate! Europe elaboration of RENREN good practice

      In addition to the impressive collection of policy best practices in the area of renewable energy, the projects have also achieved other interesting results.  Most of these results have been described in the individual project sections. However, here, we would like to highlight the following four for consideration by other projects and projects partners:

      • Although often a part of INTERREG IVC projects, the policy recommendations produced by RENREN and GEO.POWER can provide good guidance for policymakers and inspiration for new projects. The recommendations from RENREN are especially well thought out and provide a substantive overview of policy options. They should be used as a starting point for future RES projects.

      • Peer reviews: MORE4NRG has developed a system of peer reviews for engaging policymakers in an intensive review process of renewable energy policies with experts from academia and business. The process allows regional stakeholder involvement and provides a region with an ‘outside’ review by like-minded people. Peer reviews are continued in the Regions4GreenGrowth project and are certainly recommendable for other projects as well.

      • Regional Action Plans: BIO.EN.AREA has developed a template to draw up regional biomass action plans that can be used as a guide by regions interested in bio-energy. Although many of the projects highlighted the importance of regional action plans, the BIO.EN.AREA template particularly stands out as it can be adapted to any region, with instructions on what to include and how to analyse current and future bio-energy potential.

      • Best practice database: The RETS project has developed the RETS wiki holding description of the best practices that have been collected by the project. The project has invited RENREN to participate in the wiki and is willing to open the wiki to other interested partners.

  • Pre-requisites for successful implementation
    • With regard to regional policy for the use of RES, the projects emphasise concentration or specialisation as a core pre-requisite. Each region should concentrate on its existing regional strengths and local conditions when building RES policy strategies and action plans. This is especially true for regions that have little or no experience with RES implementation. They should first focus on the RES with the highest growth potential.

      In addition, the following core pre-requisites for successful RES development and implementation were identified by the projects:

      • Capacity building / training of suppliers and service providers along the entire supply chain (installers, operation & maintenance, etc.);

      • Adequate grid infrastructure and storage systems;

      • Easy permitting processes;

      • Long-term political commitment, legal stability and political will;

      • Coherent policies, clear programming and target setting;

      • Demonstration of business potential for creating jobs and income for local economy;

      • Public awareness and communication at all levels including with the media;

      • Public involvement and cooperation, for example, in community schemes or Public-Private Partnerships;

      • Involvement of the private sector and other relevant external experts;

      • Access to finance and RES incentives;

      • Common support of local and regional stakeholders;

      • Creation of a science and innovation infrastructure.

  • Possible synergies with other EU programmes
    • Renewable projects under INTERREG IVC fulfil the important function of spreading knowledge and policy approaches to a large number of regions. This large scale implementation at regional level is the backbone of the Europe 2020 strategy. Synergies with other European programmes can be achieved in particular with regard to access to:

      • State-of-the-art research results (FP7 and Horizon 2020);

      • Capacity building and demonstration projects for renewable energy (IEE – Intelligent Energy Europe financed by CIP);

      • Eco-innovative cluster co-operation (ECOCLUP financed by CIP);

      • Collaboration of eco-innovation policymakers (ECOPOL project financed by DG ENV);

      • Innovative policy approaches, such as, for example, voucher schemes tested for renewable energy services and services in the sustainable construction (KIS-PIMS and GREENCONSERVE projects under Europe INNOVA programme financed by CIP).

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