Uniting forces: Empowering Osona against energy poverty
8 February 2024
It is often said that knowledge is power. This has never been truer than in the fight against energy poverty. In the heart of Osona, Spain, a collaborative movement is developing to combat energy poverty and foster community-driven solutions. Anchored by the Local Energy Agency of Osona (ALEO) and propelled by 27 committed energy communities, the focus is twofold: to share vital knowledge and best practices while fostering unity among stakeholders. The Local Energy Agency (ALEO) is the energy department of the Regional Council of Osona, which supports the 50 municipalities of Osona in all energy related issues.
The energy communities of Osona, driven by a fervent desire for social impact, face hurdles in addressing energy poverty. The key lies in uniting them with municipalities and social services departments to create a robust, inclusive model. This collaborative model presents a win-win synergy; while energy communities bring fervent activism and human resources for social impact, municipalities offer the necessary economic backing, forming a potent partnership where each fills the other's gaps for a successful project delivery.
At the forefront is La Tonenca Sccl, an energy community who partnered with the local government to use three public building roofs for solar panel installations. In return, La Tonenca will share a fixed percentage of the generated energy with the local government. They are also collaborating with the social services department to provide some of this energy to vulnerable groups.
La Tonenca is proactively tackling energy poverty and has recently been awarded for a project designed to address this issue. It involves a unique solar panel installation in the city of Tona, directing all generated energy to households struggling with energy poverty. ALEO will support this project by identifying the agreements between the municipality and energy community, running the selection of households to be supported and engaging them in the project. The success of this endeavour hinges on:
- Knowledge sharing: transferring essential insights on energy poverty and local context among stakeholders.
- Collaborative synergy: crafting agreements and fostering cooperation between energy communities, municipalities, and social services.
The vision extends beyond this singular project. Learnings from La Tonenca's initiative aim to birth a replicable model, a guidebook tailored to the local landscape. This blueprint for action seeks to galvanise other energy communities, nurturing collaborative efforts across Osona. This could take the form of an energy poverty manual for energy communities.
Challenges persist, especially in navigating technicalities and securing agreements with local governments and social services. Yet, successes emerge, with growing support from local businesses and an expanded reach to more vulnerable households through increased PV installations.
As 2024 unfolds, the mission remains crystal clear: forge alliances, share knowledge, and empower communities to stand united against energy poverty in Osona. “One of the goals of the energy communities is that no one is left out of the energy transition train, and thus, the energy communities need to develop all the necessary mechanisms” said Gil Salvans, Head of the Osonas' Energy Agency at the Regional Council of Osona. Within Sun4All Community of Practice, ALEO will support the development of the energy poverty project in Tona and develop a model with the lessons learned of this case study.