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Social Innovation to Tackle Energy Poverty
The Social Innovation Accelerator for Combating Energy Poverty is a 2019 initiative co-created by Ashoka and the Schneider Electric Foundation, under the auspices of the France Foundation, together with Enel Romania as a local partner.
The aim of the program was to identify and support young people with innovative ideas and existing projects working in the field of energy poverty in five European countries: Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. After two stages of selection, 15 finalists were selected to join a 5-month program, which helped them improve their strategy and amplify their positive impact on society and the environment.
Transforming a problem ...
According to the EU Energy Poverty Observatory, more than 50 million households in the European Union are struggling to get adequate heat, pay their utility bills on time and live in homes without moisture and mold. In the Eastern European region alone, in 2016, the percentage of people unable to keep their homes warm ranged from 4.7% in the Czech Republic to 41.3% in Bulgaria. In addition, in 2017 the percentage of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion was well over 20% in most countries in this region, with higher figures in Romania (36%) and Bulgaria (39%).
… In an opportunity.
After a successful partnership in 2015-2016, 2017-2018, in 2019 the Schneider Electric Foundation, under the auspices of the Foundation de France and Ashoka, renewed their commitment to contribute to improving the living conditions of millions of people facing poverty energy in Europe. To improve the impact of the project, Enel Romania has joined our efforts as a local partner. By supporting the most innovative social entrepreneurs in Europe, we can help entire communities fight energy poverty and move towards energy sustainability.
After 3 months of searching and selecting projects, people and organizations addressing energy poverty, we can proudly announce the finalists of this year's edition of the social innovation accelerator program to combat energy poverty, co-created by Ashoka and the Schneider Foundation Electric, with the support of Enel Romania as a local partner! Out of 60 entries examined by local juries, 28 were evaluated by the European jury and, finally, 15 projects were selected as finalists.
1. Energy Agency Plovdiv
The Plovdiv Energy Agency (EAP) wants to create a sustainable model of cooperation with stakeholders and initiate a crowdfunding campaign for the purchase and installation of efficient heating installations for households with energy problems. The partners to be mobilized in the campaign will mainly include private enterprises, especially those with a "green conscience".
2. John Atanasov School - Electric Bike (WINNER)
They invented a solar-powered electric bicycle. They use the bicycle for transport to school and, during class, they charge in the sunlight. The idea of such a bicycle is related to the comfort of people who use cheaper transport and set aside financial resources for energy efficiency at home or elsewhere. The additional advantages are: Avoiding traffic congestion and switching from one mode of transport to another; reducing travel time, protecting the environment.
3. Association of Citizens Advice Centers
The aim of the project is to extend the existing citizens 'counseling services to the energy counseling services provided to its clients by the Association of Citizens' Counseling Centers (AOP). The project activities will include: pilot testing of energy advice in counseling centers for two member citizens of the Czech Republic; developing a methodology for providing energy advice, 4. taking on the Scottish experience.
4. Centrum pasivního domu
The project deals with methods of support for sustainable housing in social support facilities, aimed primarily at disadvantaged groups (low-income families with children, disadvantaged people due to older age, people at risk of social exclusion and poverty). These target groups are, among others, the most vulnerable to so-called energy poverty or a situation in which a household cannot afford to heat an apartment at 18-20 ° C.
5. Municipality of Kněžice (WINNER)
The municipality has been striving for an independent energy saving for a long time and is trying to achieve it through successive steps. The aim of the project is to change the access to electricity for citizens and, as in the heating sector, to become a self-sufficient element in the system. All these changes have a positive impact on increasing competitiveness, efficiency and environmental quality, while increasing energy security.
6. The Real Pearl Foundation
We aim to develop a business plan for the wider production of environmentally friendly heating fuel (lighter) and to explore opportunities around efficient heating stoves so that we can use local sources to address the daily heating problem for disadvantaged families. We would also like to expand our scope of action, such as debt management, improving planning, setting community rules, developing environmental responsibility and community members, both for children and adults, to achieve a standard of living. higher. resole
7. Apro’Tech (WINNER)
Our team is dedicated to the design and construction of efficient bricks and masonry heaters traditionally grown for low-income families. AproTech is a working group of Vedegylet (Protect the Future Association), which was founded in 2000 with the aim of making Hungary a fairer society with the disadvantaged and a country that uses its resources in a sustainable way. The purpose of AproTech is to provide accessible services to the most vulnerable communities, in order to combat the problems of winter heating and energy consumption.
We are developing straw-based insulation systems for homes, which is a perfect substitute for the foam plastic currently available and widely used. It surpasses foam plastic in an ecological and socio-economic point of view, while offering a similar comfort to the inhabitants: it has a similar efficiency of thermal insulation, has very good sound insulation qualities and water vapor absorption characteristics and is easy to applied to houses in any condition. It is environmentally friendly, durable and tough, fire resistant. Coming from natural sources, it is easy and cheap to handle as a waste material. We believe that detached houses (anyway) can lead to significant energy savings for households. Our goal is to make insulation widely available, taking advantage of locally produced straw and our mobile production technology. We will produce the ecological insulation board on site with locally available resources.
9. Federation of Social Organization in the Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship FOSa (WINNER)
FOSa has developed a game about efficient resource management. It is built on the same base as many other games, such as Monopoly. There are a plate and other necessary items. Includes a key element, gamification. Importantly, the game is not the only method of impact. It is a tool that is inherently part of a process of activation and support for the group. The game is an alternative to similar courses, which are many on the market, but which are traditionally taught, such as workshops. Thanks to the evaluations, we know that it answers the mentioned problems. First, it diminishes the negative attitude towards education. Second, the game provides concrete knowledge and skills in the field of efficient management of one's own resources. The game is built in such a way that players get concrete tips and solutions.
10. Association of Integration of Local Social Communities “Wielkopomoc”
The Wielkopomoc Association has set up a social enterprise so that the community can socially reintegrate through work, but also be offered financial independence. In addition to the management of the shelter, the production of wooden warehouses, and other simple products for carpentry, social cooperation will determine a new process, namely the production of pellets. People living in local municipalities, who are in poor financial situations, will be able to make pallets on their own. Pallets are made from wood waste, special plants grown for this purpose and a by-product of agriculture. Pallets are produced by compressing wood dust, which is obtained as a post-production material in sawmills and other places that produce wood.
11. Fine Energy / Citizens ’Energy System
Fine Energy / Citizens' Energy System is a start-up of a model for the creation of small social energy cooperatives for people at risk of energy poverty living in single-family homes, farms, small family houses in hamlets, settlements, or districts far from larger aggregates of inhabitants. The aim of the project is to launch an energy community model, then to create an environment and tools for reproducing this model wherever there is such a demand and there are people interested in self-organizing such a local initiative.
12. Bucharest’s District 1 City Hall
The City Hall of Sector 1 in Bucharest intends to implement a pilot program for the thermal rehabilitation of houses. Currently, for sector 1, there are approximately 2100 applications for membership of the individual thermal rehabilitation program (houses). In order to structure the program, we consider it necessary to identify 35-50 houses that meet the general criteria of the strategy mentioned above and integrate them into a pilot program. By implementing the pilot program, we should define the criteria for selecting houses for this stage (35-50 houses from 2100 applications), design and execution constraints, possible legal shortcomings, identify how to achieve energy performance indicators, such as and to develop standard solutions (categories of works) that could be implemented on a large scale, without being blocked by individual design constraints.
13. Center for the Study of Democracy
Not all barriers to increasing energy efficiency and related climate effects have yet been addressed: energy poverty, with its ramifications, is not properly understood and integrated into the policy-making process, especially at the local level; there is a lack of specific data and correlation between existing data sets while existing data do not materialize in effective policy instruments; there is a general lack of information and stakeholder involvement. These objectives are met by providing a mapping of the socio-spatial dimensions of energy poverty; Quantifying the impact of energy poverty on households and GHG emissions; Development of a new online energy-saving tool; Offering a series of stakeholder workshops, as well as developing outreach and dissemination activities.
14. Your Energy
Energy poverty is the consequence of three factors: low incomes + high energy bills + poor energy efficiency. energiaTA will address all 3 in the following order: 1. Increasing energy efficiency, 2. Reducing energy bills and 3. Increasing revenues: Skills development, Education, Arts and crafts, Agriculture, Tourism. There are 3 barriers that need to be addressed to solve the energy problem when it comes to accessibility: technological, physical, and economic. They aim to address all 3, as well as provide B2C services and products, going directly to the vulnerable population, with local municipalities as partners. The first step is to reduce energy demand through energy efficiency solutions. The second stage is represented by the photovoltaic solar systems that people could rent, without paying the initial money, but a monthly fee that they could afford. Finally, we will address revenue growth by working with other organizations to find local growth opportunities and partner with local companies.
15. World Vision Romania - Winterization (WINNER)
Through the Winterization program, over three years, 90 families with children who are at risk in winter (30 families per year) will benefit from improved households to protect their children from the extreme cold in winter. Based on the needs assessments, an adapted winter intervention will be made at the household level. This wintering intervention may consist of repairs or equipment with new heating stoves and/or windows and/or entrance doors, repairs or construction of chimneys, including the work required to install and support wintering items. This tailored intervention will contribute to the sustainability of the household in terms of improved living conditions and warming, will help families to have better-equipped households for the winter and will increase their comfort in terms of quality and health.
Ovidiu has been part of Ashoka for 5 years, currently being a community builder for international programmes. Previously, he organized events for the Ashoka Community in Romania (both online and in person), championed candidates for the Ashoka Fellowship, coordinated an Ashoka Central and Eastern Europe program on energy poverty and other local capacity-building processes, supported the Ashoka Europe DEI efforts and organised LGBTQIA+ events Ashoka-wide. He has a background in Economics, graduating Faculty of Finance and Banking. However, driven by an authentic need for alternative learning he was part of the Economics Students Association in Romania, and studied and worked for The Alternative University and Restart in Education Community. Ovidiu is passionate about dancing, sports for social good and DEI.