Three energy efficiency and renewable energy projects from Spain, the UK and Austria have won the prestigious EU Sustainable Energy Europe Awards for their innovative, consumer-empowering ideas.
Speaking at the award ceremony, Miguel Arias Cañete, European Commissioner for climate action and energy, said that the winners were chosen because they represent unique ideas which put the consumer at the centre of the energy system – in line with the EU's plans for Energy Union.
"Today's consumers are not passive. They care about what they buy – they want to know where it comes from, what it's made of, who made it, and whether it's good for them and good for the planet. The energy consumer is as active as the high street shopper checking the product label or 'best before' date. We need to support them to make sustainable choices," he said.
One winner, the Desendolla't Project in Vic, Spain, is an energy efficiency project which has achieved a 21% energy saving in 27 schools in just two years. The project involves the use of smart meters and remote central heating, alongside workshops on better management techniques. The energy savings made translated into a cost saving of €281,000.
Another winner, the Co-operative Energy's User Chooser project in Warwick, the UK, allows energy consumers to select the type of energy they prefer – from solar to wind – and even decide on a specific site such as a wind farm in Cumbria or a solar farm in Somerset. Some 68% of electricity produced by the Co-operative Energy is renewable, compared to the UK supplier average of 17%.
The final winner - EcoGator from Vienna, Austria - is a smartphone app which builds on the EU's energy efficiency labels. The app scans an energy efficiency label on a product such as a fridge and provides shoppers a traffic light rating system which compares the product with other similar products on the market. The project aims to save a total of 1.95 TWh by 2020.
EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) runs from 15-19 June.