Democracy and participation, Environment and sustainability

From Coal to Sun

Empowering citizens in deprived rural areas

Creators

Who is behind this?

Carlos Pesque

Fundacion Ecologia y Desarrollo

http://www.ecodes.org

Spain

Idea

Idea pitch

The aim of the project is to encourage the active and critical participation of the rural communities in the transition to a new energy model. This civic idea will generate the mechanisms of agreement and participation in order to generate spaces of dialogue and co-creation of ideas of adaptation for public spaces that are underused, transforming them into ‘Solar Squares’ that provide renewable energy to neighbors while creating a new space to enjoy.

Where will your project idea take place?

Comarca de las Cuencas Mineras. Teruel (Spain)

What is the local challenge?

The project will be developed in the Comarca de las Cuencas Mineras in Teruel. This area has traditionally been dedicated to the extraction of coal in mines for use as fuel in a thermal power plant located in the same area. In 2003 a process of reconversion of the economic activity of the region began with the closure of the last coal mine. Recently, this year the thermal power station closed. Miles of families in this region dependent on this plant

How does your idea strengthen democracy and active citizenship at a local and community level?

The process of co-design among stakeholders —citizens, local administrations, energy entrepreneurs, local companies and shops, etc.—, supports the creation of spaces of critical communication, exchange and learning, under the same final purpose: to create an collective self-consumption solar energy system on an underused space of their environment over a physical meeting space for dialogue and learning about aspects related to energy culture that contributes to the residents of the town becoming agents of change.
This project aims to involve the area in the paradigm shift in the energy model, from coal to solar energy. Empowering people to actively participate in this new scenario. Going from being passive consumers, to active as energy renewable producers and conscious consumers

Who are you doing it for?

The methodology that will be used for this will be the learning communities that help generate spaces for critical communication, exchange and learning, starting from the individual and collective experience
These spaces would be structured by sector according to the different roles, expectations and needs in the ecosystem of the people: neighbors, companies and businesses, educational institutions and public administration.
Some key figures about the groups:
The closure of the thermal power plant meant the destruction of 560 direct jobs and more than 4,000 indirect jobs in an area with less than 20,000 inhabitants
The biggest village in this area is Utrillas with 2970 inhabitants.
the population density in this region is 5,66 hab/km²

How do you plan to get there?

1.Meetings with local agents with the following objectives:
· Generate dialogue with the residents to understand what, according to their perspective, are the main difficulties in managing energy and self-consumption with solar energy.
· Promote collective empowerment by transmitting knowledge about collective self-consumption and the right to energy
· Identify coordinated actions between the different actors involved to promote collective self-consumption, taking into account families at risk of exclusion
2.Participatory processes that involve the different agents for the co-creation of a meeting space in the town focused on promoting sustainability and in which the collective self-consumption facility will be placed.
3.Training workshops about energy efficiency and energy rights

What are the expected results?

The result of the project will be the production of communication and facilitation material (in the form of a video/guide/ infographics or other). The material may be used by other municipalities in the region of Cuencas Mineras (or extrapolate the result to others with similar problems in an international framework) to promote dialogue and participation of rural depopulated Spain, by proposing practical solutions in order to change the energy model. The construction and materialization of the project will be in charge of the local administrations in collaboration with the energy enterprises involved.

How does your initiative contribute to strengthening democracy in Europe?

The Universal Declaration of Emerging Human Rights, a programmatic instrument of civil society identifies "the right of every human being to have access to drinking water and sanitation, and energy. Nowadays, almost 54.000.000 people are in Energy Poverty. Self consumption of energy though colective solar energy systems is key tool to democratize the access to energy, empowering people to take an active rol in the new energy model

What is your story?

Ecodes mission is to promote the transition towards a green, responsible and inclusive economy. This project is highly aligned with our mission. Moreover, Ecodes is deeply rooted in this specific area of Spain which makes us know well their problems and strengths.
We believe that this disruptive change in the economic activity of the region caused by the closure of the thermal power plant is an opportunity to change the course of the region towards a sustainable model through the commitment to solar energy as an engine for job creation, empowerment and social cohesion

€ 46500,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

€ 46500,-

Total budget

Major expenses

1.Coordination 4200 €
2.Meetings with local agents (6 meetings in each of the 3 municipalities) 18900 €
3.Participatory processes (3 sessions in each of the 3 municipalities) 10500 €
4.Training workshops: 6000 €
5. Final report and guide:2900 €
5. Comunication:1500 €
6. Travels: 1000 €
7. Office expenses: 1500 €

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

We would like to receive doubts and recommendations about working in rural areas and the implementation of energy communities

Team

Ecodes

Idea created on May 27, 2020

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