Press Release, 21 March 2018
PROSEU: Active participation of citizens into Europe’s transition towards fair and clean energy
The 3-year project under the EU “Horizon 2020” programme will be launched by a group of researchers and local government representatives from 8 countries at a kick off meeting in Lisbon on 21-22 March 2018. With a focus on the role of citizens in producing and distributing their own renewable energy, its aim is to explore how this so-called “prosumerism” can help building a more sustainable future.
In its effort to become an energy-efficient, low-carbon economy and to reach the goal of the Paris Agreement, the European Union decided to invest in developing more affordable and resource-efficient energy solutions. This requires the involvement and better cooperation of all stakeholders, including end-users. Citizens are thus taking ownership of the transition towards greener energy, as opposed to leaving it to the traditional actors.
The many grassroots energy initiatives that started sprouting across the EU, aim at bridging the gap between investors, producers and consumers. The latter, by producing their own renewable energy at local or neighbourhood level, become what are called “prosumers”. “Prosumerism” gives a new meaning to citizen participation: instead of criticising and trying to influence public policies, they take responsibility for it themselves.
How communities, towns and cities can reduce reliance on centralised power is an important question for the future of European energy policy. Those local initiatives both address the global environmental challenge by making a concrete contribution to the shift from fossil to renewable energy; but also work out new business models, based on coproduction and cooperative ownership. This contributes to developing new forms of democracy and transparency in the economic sphere.
Aside from mapping existing renewable energy initiatives in Europe, analysing their regulatory frameworks, identifying innovative financing schemes, as well as barriers and opportunities, relevant stakeholders will also share their experiences within “Living Labs”. Their aim is to involve partners from across the policy, business and civil society spheres and lead to the creation of a Prosumer Community of Interests, linking Prosumers and Living Labs with community-led initiatives, cooperatives, consumer groups and organisations, local and regional governments, businesses and research across the EU.
PROSEU aims to enable mainstreaming of the prosumer phenomenon into the European Energy Union in the context of energy transition. Prosumers are active energy users who both consume and produce renewable energy (RE). The research will look into new business models, market regulations, infrastructural integration, technology scenarios and energy policies. PROSEU’s interdisciplinary team will work closely together with RE Prosumer Initiatives (Living Labs), policymakers and other stakeholders from eight countries. Its goal is to find out what incentive structures will enable the mainstreaming of RE Prosumerism, while safeguarding citizen participation, inclusiveness and transparency.
PROSEU is one of several projects funded under the Horizon 2020 Programme of the European Union in the area of Social Sciences and Humanities Support for the Energy Union. For more information: https://ec.europa.eu/inea/en/horizon-2020