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European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency
News article11 December 2023European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency

Two H2020 projects awarded winners of the 2023 European Social Innovation Competition

EmpowerMed H2020EE

Under the challenge ‘fighting energy poverty’, the European Commission has selected the three winners of the European Social Innovation Competition from a shortlist of 15 projects suggesting solutions focusing on consumption, energy savings, renovations, energy community and joint investments, among others.

The announcement took place on 14 November, in the context of the European Conference “Social Economy: People, Planet, Action” organised by the Spanish Presidency in San Sebastian.

The winners of this prize acknowledging social innovation as a powerful approach to respond to societal challenges are: Ecodes, City of Eeklo and EmpowerMed. The latter two are related to projects funded by the Horizon 2020 programme, under the 'Energy Efficiency' calls.

The City of Eeklo is one of five locations for pilots in the POWER UP project that are developing innovative business models to fight energy poverty together with households affected by energy poverty and with local stakeholders (municipalities, social organisations, energy utilities, citizen cooperatives, etc.), facilitating access to energy efficiency measures and renewable energy. The Eeklo pilot in particular focuses on a financial scheme for vulnerable and indebted households based on revenues of an existing wind turbine owned by Eeklo and the Belgium citizen cooperative Ecopower to enhance access to local green energy at a fair price. In this way, the barriers for households to become a member of an energy community and access local green energy are removed and debts can be limited. In addition, accompanying measures for households (communication campaigns, dedicated workshops, etc.) are put in place to support them in reducing their energy consumption. In this way vulnerable households are actively participating in and benefiting of the local clean energy transition.

The overall objective of EmpowerMed was to tackle energy poverty and to help improve the health of people in the coastal areas of Mediterranean countries, with a particular focus on women. The goal was to implement practical solutions to empower over 10,000 people to tackle energy poverty in the Mediterranean, assessing the impacts of those measures to formulate local, national and EU policy recommendations. Practical actions are being implemented in 6 pilot areas with the involvement of a wide range of stakeholders. Within the framework of the project, various solutions and trainings were organised, including trainings for photovoltaic panel installation and use, trainings for local health actors, and collective advisory assemblies open to anyone who is experiencing difficulties in relation to the access and affordability of domestic energy services.

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