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COllective action Models for Energy Transition and Social Innovation

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - COMETS (COllective action Models for Energy Transition and Social Innovation)

Reporting period: 2019-05-01 to 2020-10-31

COMETS is aimed at investigating Collective Action Initiatives – CAIs (such as energy communities, energy cooperatives and similar community based initiatives) as the main driver of social innovation in the energy sector. The aim is to find meaningful answers to two main questions:
• What are the mechanisms that promote the creation or uptake of CAIs in the energy sector and what are the barriers?
• What is the actual and potential contribution of SI in the energy sector provided by various types of CAIs in qualitative and quantitative terms?
CAIs, a social innovation in itself, are in fact a prime way to mobilize people and to ensure the acceptance for and participation in the necessary transition process. Both social innovation and CAIs lack proper scientific and field-tested understanding of their development and factors for success. As of today, the role of citizen-driven CAIs and their contribution to the energy transition has neither been quantified at an aggregate level, nor has their contribution potential been estimated or understood in sufficient depth. COMETS aims to fill these knowledge gaps by quantifying the European wide aggregate contribution of CAIs to the energy transition at national and European levels by investigating their evolution and scaling up at an in-depth level in six selected countries (Belgium, Estonia, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain).
The ambition is to trigger a shift in the scientific comprehension of the dynamics behind the development of such initiatives and to produce novel knowledge and tools to support the decision making process at the level of CAIs and of the main public and private actors on the energy system. The deep understanding of the trajectories of these initiatives has been growing relevance in recent years in view of the implementation at the national level of the EU directives (2018/2001, 2019/944) that paved the way for CAIs establishment.
The overall objective of COMETS is to investigate CAIs and all their associated social factors. In addition to social factors, the complexity of the energy transition results also from the co-evolution of technological and institutional factors.
More specifically, the objectives of COMETS are:
1. To build robust knowledge on social innovative processes in the energy transition as implemented by CAIs. COMETS will generate and test new knowledge about technical, institutional, economic, social and cultural factors and their interaction that may facilitate or hinder sustained activities of CAIs. The project will provide new tools for the assessment of CAIs performance and will provide aggregate estimates of their current and potential contribution to the energy transition.
2. To provide tools and recommendations for improving the start-up, steering, and up-scaling of CAI activities. COMETS will co-design the tools with practitioners, enabling changes in the current situation and generating blueprints for future initiatives.
The expected impacts of COMETS is many-fold. Firstly, the project will advance the scientific knowledge on the motives, desires, objectives and barriers of such CAIs and their historical and future role in the energy transition. Building on the information gathered and tested for its robustness, COMETS will co-develop and test supportive tools together with CAI members, decision makers and the scientific community. These stakeholders will then be able to exploit the main outputs of COMETS, namely a Supporting Platform for CAIs, the enhanced knowledge base, scenarios and roadmaps for spreading CAI models, even after the project is concluded.
All work in the first reporting period has been ensured by the Coordinator, UNITO, to be performed in a timely manner and with the highest standard. Risk management and quality assurance measures have been applied by the Coordinator to ensure objectives and results are achieved. Out of all deliverables in the first reporting period, only one was delayed beyond the scope of this period (D7.4 :Mid-term conference). This is due to the covid emergency and postponement of D3.3 Survery Analysis, which is crucial for scientific discussions at the conference.

The following is a summary of work performed and main results so far (as of October 2020):

- Project Management Plan
- internal Collaboration infrastructure
- Data Management Plan
- Key meetings: Two General Assemblies (included Kick-off conference in Turin); four Executive board meetings; two Advisory Board Meetings;

- Inventory of energy CAIs in Europe (As of October 2020, the inventory contains about 4300 entries)
- Report on working definition of CAIs
- Report on the evolution of the context and energy sector in the 6 EU COMETS countries (Belgium, Estonia, Italy, The Netherlands, Poland and Spain)
- Survey of Collective Action Initiatives in Europe (over 200 replies from the 6 COMETS countries)
- Validation Framework (to implement the 'best available knolwedge' model)
- Set of Indicators for assessing CAIs performance
- Case Studies (preliminary activities):
- - Methodology for comparative case-studies established
- - 2 Training days : ‘Training for comparative case studies; 'A multi-actor engagement training'
- - Coordination for the establishment of the six “National Research Team” that will be in charge of the activties.

- Dissemination, Communication and Exploitation Plan (continously updated)
- COMETS website
- Supporting web platform for CAIs development - COMETS-Communities for Future (CfF)
- Continuous Social media presence: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn
- Ongoing liaising with other Social Innovation projects and related EU funded initiatives to identify and exploit synergies;
- 4 publications
- 26 Conference participations
- 28 workshop/seminars participations
COMETS is bridging the knowledge gaps about CAIs contribution to energy transition through its comprehensive analytical framework and the quantitative Inventory.

A future scenario building process together with the CAIs will define and envisage plausible and desirable futures for them. The futures previously developed will serve as a starting point to develop roadmaps to reach them, with the active participation of the CAIs involved. It will also build strategic roadmaps at national level for supporting social innovation in the energy sector.

The CfF platform is aimed at facilitating the development, improvement and reinforcement of CAIs themselves and facilitating a robust network building.

The expected impact is to empower citizens and increase their awareness about their potential role in the energy transition and to provide CAIs and decision makers with effective tools to steer the development of community-based initiatives in the nergy sector.