In a keynote delivered to kick off the award ceremony, EU Commissioner for Environment, Virginijus Sinkevičius, said “the ‘Good Practice of the Year’ award is an excellent initiative, and I give it my full support. I encourage you all to continue in these efforts, and to promote nature-based solutions for electricity grids and our energy system. Electricity powers our civilisation. But all civilisations depend on nature.”
The Renewables Grid Initiative (RGI) is proud to announce that the three outstanding practices that our jury of experts chose to award illustrate and address many of the most urgent challenges we face with regard to building a renewables-based energy system: the need to explain the intricacies of this system to a wider interested public and connecting it to the complexity of European grid planning, the relevance of smart spatial decisions and creative solutions for system flexibility.
Those winning practices are:
In the ‘Communication & Engagement’ category:
‘COMPILE’ by the University of Ljubljana
The jury unanimously voted for this practice because of its innovative value, transferability and relevance in promoting decentralisation through renewable energy communities in remote areas. Beyond its technical achievements, the project’s exemplary communication approach and success in communities’ engagement through a web-based user-friendly guide contributes to connecting the dots between the renewable transformation of different sectors such as transport and heating and the complexity of pan-European grid planning.
“We are very happy to have won the 'Good Practice of the Year' award and thank the jury for the positive recognition of the COMPILE project, which aims to help citizens create energy communities and empower them to cooperate and fight climate change by investing in renewable energy,” said Edin Lakić, Senior Researcher at the University of Ljubljana’s Faculty of Electrical Engineering.
In the ‘Environmental Protection’ category:
‘Site Wind Right’ by the Nature Conservancy
Site Wind Right won this category’s award because it brings a valuable contribution to the reconciliation of renewable energy with nature and biodiversity. The sophisticated spatial planning tool developed by the project detects land areas with the lowest conflict potential to help inform wind development siting decisions, thereby minimising the impacts on species and wildlife habitats in a timely and resource-efficient manner. Additionally, the practice proved transferable and – due to excellent stakeholder outreach methodologies – successful in reducing opposition to wind projects.
“We are humbled that The Nature Conservancy’s ‘Site Wind Right’ Map was chosen by a jury of peers as RGI’s Environmental Good Practice of the Year for 2021,” said Nathan Cummins, Great Plains Renewable Energy Strategy Director at The Nature Conservancy. “Site Wind Right is a science-based tool that was built through many years of collaboration across the Central United States to assist energy buyers and planning authorities incorporate nature into renewable energy siting decisions. Through utilizing Site Wind Right, we can accelerate a clean and green energy future.”
In the ‘Technological Innovation & System Integration’ category:
SoLAR by the SoLAR Allensbach consortium
The jury awarded the prize for technological innovation to SoLAR Allensbach as the practice creates a comprehensive flexibility package for an increased integration of renewable sources into the grid. It includes flexibility at distribution level, energy services to consumers, a virtual battery concept and dynamic grid tariffs, demonstrating the functionality of intelligent sector coupling and a technological lead ahead of policy. In addition, the replicable practice achieved support at both local and state levels thanks to its successful engagement with local communities and authorities.
“Grid operators are still quite conservative – for good reasons. Energy system transition must not lead to breakdowns. Still, it has to be massively accelerated to prevent a climate catastrophe. So, we are extremely happy with the jury’s vote, valuing our contribution. Let’s get in touch with each other and speed it up,” said Stefan Werner, SoLAR initiator and coordinator for ISC Konstanz.
The winners were crowned at the ‘Optimising Energy & Empowering Nature’ conference co-organised by RGI, IUCN and ENTSO-E today.
RGI would like to extend our sincere congratulations to the winners and thank everyone who submitted the diverse and innovative practices that were part of the competition this year. You can find out all about the jury’s favourite practices in our award brochure.
Our thanks also go to the international auditing and advisory company MAZARS for accompanying the evaluation process for the eighth year in a row, to ENTSO-E who hosted the award ceremony at their premises in Brussels and to our outstanding jury, for their ongoing commitment to helping to identify the most outstanding practices in grid development and integration.