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Rural sustainable development through integration of renewable energy technologies in poor European regions

Final Report Summary - RES INTEGRATION (Rural sustainable development through integration of renewable energy technologies in poor European regions)

The project's objectives can be generalised in two main topics:
1) significantly increase the share of renewable sources of energy to particular regions of participating countries, thus with beneficial effects, among other sectors, for CO2 emissions and job creation;
2) develop cost effective local renewable solutions integrated to sectors with significant social and environmental dimension at selected poor regions.
The ultimate goal of the present project was to study the implementation of innovative low cost renewable energy and energy saving technologies at selected poor regions of the participating countries.

Through the project, specific integrated renewable energy systems (IRES) were proposed for sustainable development of each region. By the term IRES, it was meant an energy system with an optimal energetic autonomy including food production and if any excesses, energy exports. Energy production and consumption at the region had to be sustainable and eventually based mainly on renewable energy sources.

Each partner team (in each of the participating countries) has selected a pilot rural region and performs the following tasks:
1. study the today energy situation in the region: study the sources of energy, consumption by sector, space and time distribution of the consumption;
2. study the local energy potential, space and time distribution;
3. define development scenarios of the region;
4. develop a prototype model (expert system) for introducing in the regions the IRESs;
5. propose specific IRESs and development policy to be applied in the region through the developed model (expert system);
6. socio-economic and environmental considerations;
7. dissemination activities.

The work was divided into the following work packages (WPs):

1) WP 1: Selection of target regions - Data collection and processing. This WP was conducted through a survey analysis of selected regions in the six countries participating in the project. The objective of this WP was to select a rural region in each participating country and implement the study of Integration of renewable energy technologies for this region. The target regions that were selected, offered high suitability for renewable energies introduction according to their economic, social and climatic characteristics. After the selection of the target regions descriptive data of the regions were collected. The collected data included: region characteristics (size, economic indices, settlements, market position, agricultural and industrial activities), environmental conditions (vegetation, soil, climate, morphology aspects, biotope features and land use structure), farm energy characteristics (consumption, demands, type of fuels and anticipated tendencies), industrial energy consumption characteristics (consumption, demands, type of fuels and anticipated tendencies) and renewable energy sources potential.

2) WP 2: Identify schemes for IRES implementation. The objective of this WP was the development of a common methodology for identifying schemes for the implementation of IRES in rural regions to achieve long-term sustainable region development. In fact, the selected target regions were located in geographical areas with different climatic, geomorphologic and socio-economic conditions; the main effect was that in general they had different types of locally available renewable energy resources (e.g. different solar radiation, wind distribution, availability of biomass resources, etc.) and diverse opportunities for implementing energy solutions and technologies. As a consequence different solutions were envisaged for the regions accordingly to the various conditions, but the methodology for the development of the IRES - based on an integrated approach - should be the same for all the partners. The implementation methodology was based on two main deliverables: inventory of RES technologies to be employed for the IRESs (D3) and inventory of pathways for the sustainable development of the regions based on the utilisation of the locally available energy resources. In this analysis, special emphasis was given to the following aspects: maximising the contribution of renewable sources to community energy needs, hybrid nature of the technologies, integration of RES and RUE actions, optimisation of energetic autonomy in rural areas, technically, economically and environmentally sound technologies and solutions, opportunities for agricultural, industrial and local socio-economic development and local community diversification opportunities. Starting point of this methodology was the inventory of RES technologies and sustainable energy solutions that the selected region could adopt to enable the highest amount of locally consumed conventional energy to be replaced by renewable energy; also, initiatives concerning energy saving and rational use of energy were considered.
3) Model development and application for determining optimum IRES schemes in the selected regions. The goal of the model was to configure the optimum combination of RES Technologies to be employed for each of the selected regions. The objectives of this work package can be summarised in the following: finalisation of the graphical user interface of the model and distribution to partners for testing, running the model, point out the main parameters and use data collected in the previous phase, final definition of the IRES in each target region based on the results of the previous WPs as well as meetings with local authorities, farmers' co-operatives and all the key groups involved in the planning- implementing stage, determination of the optimal IRES schemes in the specific sites, technical meetings between national leaders for this project and corresponding regions in order to evaluate the results. The main achievements up to now can be summarised: The methodology for the development of optimisation software has been determined and the software was developed and finalised under name 'Determining optimum integration of RES' (DOIRES). DOIRES was a mathematical programming optimisation tool subject to suitable equality and inequality constraints. The model took into account appropriate technologies for IRES and it was designed for an energy planning of a time horizon of up to 20 years. The model was used for defining the optimum local combination (integration at regional level) of renewable energy technologies according to the specific conditions, needs, particularities of the target region examined at each case. In presence of conflicting objectives, multi-criteria analysis was used to select a compromise option that enhances sustainability.

4) WP4: Cost benefit analysis and socio-economic impact assessment of the defined IRESs for each region. The objective of this work package was the cost benefit analysis and socio-economic impact assessment of the defined IRESs for each region. A review of available methodologies for cost benefit analysis was performed. Several runs of the chosen methodology for the cost benefit analysis were made for the planned projects in FYROM in order to identify all its possibilities and eventual negative sides. After collection of the data for nearly all the planned projects, the cost benefit analysis for all of them was made.

5) WP 5: Environmental and ecological impact assessment of the defined IRESs for each region. In the sixth progress meeting, which was held in the June in FYROM, MFKG proposed the final methodology for environmental and ecological impact assessment of the defined IRESs to the partners. During the implementation of the methodology particular emphasis was given into: data on applied technologies and their developers, data on sites for technologies, data on environmental effects of the technologies of the selected IRES scheme, measures against adverse effects of the technologies on the environment and ecology, measures envisaged preventing, reducing and, if possible, eliminating any accident effects on the environment and ecology for the technologies, data on technical shortcomings, absence of the appropriate expertise and skills, program of monitoring of technology impact on the environment by technology developers of each technology.

6) WP 6: Implementation of RES in restructuring and development programs. The objective of this work package was the integration of project results into existing and planned international aid and development schemes of each region. The main activities during this package were:
- elaboration of country specific road maps, revision of country specific road maps,
- elaboration of a template for developing a strategy for formulation of a strategy how renewable energy actions can be integrated into the large restructuring and development plans for the West Balkan Countries FYROM, Serbia and Albania.

7) WP 7: Dissemination activities. The objective of this WP was to create initiatives that stimulate the development of markets in the agricultural and energy sector of EU and Western Balkan countries.

8) WP 8: Project management. The objective of this work package was the effective coordination of project and all managerial aspects.