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Network of small rural communities of energetic neutrality (RURENER)

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RURENER project established a network of small rural communities committed towards energy-neutrality (energy saving and decentralised supply of energy from renewable sources). Fourteen pilot communities from eight European countries plus sixty-five new members benefit from the support of 12 organisations specialized in energy, rural development or networking. During 3 years RURENER has supported concrete local action plan, built adapted tools and put forward best practises to give to local authorities inputs to reach energy-neutrality at the scale of small rural communities. During European meetings, small rural communities could share their experiences and ideas; and several meetings in Brussels were organised to share results and discuss rural energy issues with European institutions (European Commission, European Parliament, European Networks…)The RURENER network, now association, offers a range of services and information: on-line experts, web technologies to facilitate the exchange of experience, published guidelines and reports, etc. It is also becoming the voice of small rural communities towards European decision makers.The association is open to any small rural community to benefit from the experience sharing and tools and provide further expertise. RURENER's challenge is to overcome the deficits of small rural communities (lack of resources, low visibility at European level...) and to demonstrate that energy is a key for territorial cohesion.

Results

  • 78 small rural communities from 8 countries committed to energy neutrality and are active in RURENER Network to share their experience, set-up a local action plan, invest in RES, ES, awareness raising and monitoring.
  • 14 pilot communities are engaged in concrete local actions for rural energy (more than 4000 toe of RES and more than 170 000 000 € of investment in 5 years); having used tools and methods built by RURENER partners.
  • A road-map towards energy-neutrality: 6 steps to reach the objective, illustrated by advices, tools and best practices adapted to the rural specifications. A community can start its journey by one step or the other, according to its own needs : Local diagnosis; Local action plan; Capacity building; Concrete action; Communication / participation; Evaluation. (available on-line and paper-based);
  • Regular meetings and visits in rural places (4 European meetings in France, Germany, Italy, Hungary, bringing together 20 to 40 representatives) to facilitate learning and mentoring between small rural community member. In Hungary in September 2011, the RURENER members have built the RURENER association, a legal entity managed by partners and mayors able to continue the activities for the benefits of its members.
  • Debate and dissemination in Brussels to strengthen the role of rural areas in energy supply of urban areas: The bottom-up communication from RURENER has power to inform European Members of Parliament; European members of the Commission and other institutions from Brussels. Thoses debates in Brussels will continue in the future.
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Lessons learned

  • Specificities about SEAP in small rural communities To start an action within a community, complex tools are not needed & can even be frightening. The 1st step is to make a qualitative assessment of territorial resources, including the people's desire to carry out actions. The RURENER tools fulfil these requirements and the network provides examples & "moral support" to give a new community the will to start. However, stakeholders need an idea of the energy amounts spent & a technical guidance.
  • Project time is not field time. In rural areas, decision makers deal with a wide number of issues. Although they are committed to energy issues, they need someone to keep them on track. Even more when working with a participatory approach, it needs time to make sure that the activities are well integrated and that local stakeholders are actually empowered. Energy neutrality in rural areas can be turned into an integrated approach of sustainable development rather than an energetic-only approach.
  • EU meetings: a powerful tool to challenge mayors & overcome the language barrier. There's no substitute for face-to-face networking and collaboration, in particular to overcome language barriers. Here grew up a real European spirit and very much awareness of the potential of green energy at local and European levels. Later, ICT tools were developed to support collaborative work; they are used as a result of continuous training, awareness and specific target groups’ involvement.
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Partners and coordinator

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Contact

Association pour le développement économique et industriel du Massif central
France
Contact point: 
Name: 
Aline Brachet
Tel: 
+33 (0)4 27 04 51 31

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In brief

Duration:
01/12/2008 to 30/11/2011
Contract number: 
IEE/07/547

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