The ISABEL report “Social Innovation and Community Energy best practices, methods and tools across Europe” through an extensive analysis of the existing literature review as well as through interviews with representatives of major Social Innovation and Community Energy initiatives, maps the best practices of Social Innovation and community approaches in Europe and their key success and failure factors as well as policy, regulatory and operational factors that could have major implications on similar initiatives.
The report presents a literature review with selected examples of social innovation, community energy and their combination in a variety of projects. As there is currently no “single prescription to success” of these projects, the focus of this study was to explore specific practices and the success and failure factors of community energy projects. The findings are further supported by interviews of 18 stakeholders interviewed in March 2016. The interviewed stakeholders’ organizations are based in Europe (namely Greece, Germany, UK, Denmark and Croatia) and ISABEL partners discussed with them specifically the key success factors, obstacles overcome as well as types of renewable energy and community energy models implemented in their region.
The interviews highlighted that cross-sector partnerships and synergetic actions can stimulate successful social innovation community energy projects. Good practices suggested would seem to combine local entrepreneurial activities (e.g. farmers’), municipalities, local authorities, academia and local businesses. Joining these and more can create networks and cooperatives. The benefits of such cooperative memberships is largely perceived to be socio-economic, with environmental elements as the base point of project development. More specifically, these projects were shown to stimulate communities to generate and own their energy supply chain, achieve energy self-sufficiency, promote sustainable ecology, and thereafter become shareholders of their local community biogas energy venture and increase their joint profitability. Cooperative ventures are based on equity, which helps render the community investments and financing as ethical. Successful projects appeared to raise awareness and interest in alternative energy use and benefits, which could influence further the support of local and regional authorities.