People's role in the energy transition was at the heart of the agenda of the February meeting of the TEN section, where energy experts showcased their experience of working for citizens.
How can the energy transition work for citizens? How can energy be accessible for all? The energy transition means a fundamental transformation of our societies and will impact on everybody's day-to-day life. It is not only about climate change, greenhouse gas reduction and the use of new technologies. It is an opportunity for structural change, in which citizens need to play a key role. The issue of citizen participation is central. "The energy transition cannot be successful if all stakeholders are not on board - we have to take into account the needs of all actors involved," said TEN section president Pierre Jean Coulon. "The reason we have energy is to serve a final purpose, to simplify citizens' lives, including families and businesses. Without energy, our basic needs are not met: there is no education, health system or transport."
The energy transition has huge economic and social potential, especially at regional level. The rapidly declining cost of decentralised renewable technologies offers a wealth of opportunities to less advanced regions to boost their local economy and enables citizens to become energy "prosumers". In other words, people not only purchase (consume) clean energy but also play an active part in the process by becoming involved in producing energy. "If a citizen installs seven solar panels on the roof, he produces as much electricity as a normal electric car will need for one year in the future," said EESC member Lutz Ribbe in a video message.
At the same time, it is important to highlight the concern that some regions, cities and vulnerable groups may be left behind in this process. This is why it is crucial "to pursue a new path, by creating regional renewable energy cycles and interconnecting energy and regional policies," continued Mr Ribbe. "We can help address energy poverty via renewable energy production if there is the political will." (mp)