Exploitation of biomass resources in Karditsa
A core issue for the INTENSSS-PA Regional Living Lab in Karditsa is the energy exploitation of biomass. The objective is to develop a sustainable strategic energy plan, in accordance with the region’s vision on increasing energy production by means of local biomass resources
The Regional Unit of Karditsa has a significant large potential of biomass while its geo-morphology favors its energy utilization. In particular, the even distribution of mountainous and lowland areas allows the exploitation of both forest and agricultural biomass.
The energy system of Karditsa lacks domestic fossil fuel resources, so RES are of great importance in order to support the local economy and community, posing the need for an accelerated shift towards RES penetration. Taking into account that Karditsa presents the second lowest GDP per capita in the country, a high unemployment rate, many declining production activities, population shrinkage etc., it is imperative that energy investments should provide a high socioeconomic benefit to help reverse the above phenomena.
The Regional Unit of Karditsa is pioneering in energy exploitation of biomass in Greece and the local community is highly familiar and aware of this specific resource. It is worth saying that the first energy cooperative in Greece, the Energy Cooperative Society of Karditsa (ESEK), was founded in 2010 in Karditsa, bringing together 350 members from the local community
Integrated Sustainable Energy Planning in RLL Karditsa
The very first task of Karditsa’s RLL towards the co-development of the energy plan, was to prepare a vision for the region. The vision was co-shaped within the RLL, starting with the conduction of a survey among members. Based on the results, three alternative scenarios for the future energy system of Karditsa were formed:
- Social scenario (socioeconomic spin-off is the overarching target).
- “Green” scenario (the protection of the environment is the overarching target).
- Entrepreneurial scenario (the RES production is the overarching target).
Following a consultation within the RLL, the proposals of Technical Chamber of the Western Thessaly (member of the RLL representing the local engineers), and integrating the technical and socio-economic experts views, the anticipated vision was defined, combining the above three scenarios. The motto is «the evolution of Karditsa’s energy-system aligned with the development pathway, taking full advantage of the local resources, producing maximum socioeconomic spin-off and respecting the sustainable development principles”.
Subsequently, the roadmap of biomass development was described in order to pursue the vision. The mid-term ambition of the local stakeholders is the construction of three fully-organized supply chains in different biomass sources, producing jobs and local income in all over their length. On this basis, a Strategic Energy Plan, focused on the energy use of the biomass in the Regional Unit of Karditsa was elaborated stemming from the work made in the RLL and following the Integrated Sustainable Energy Planning (ISEP) methodology developed within INTENSSS-PA.
Concluding, the RLL activities include: a) the co-shaping of the planning concept in order to elaborate the Strategic Plan, b) the capacity building and introduction to knowledge for the participants, c) the two-way communication with the local stakeholders, including the local society, and d) the acquisition of data and knowledge about different aspects of the ISEP in the local context.
7 RLL meetings were held (35 different participants representing 17 stakeholders), 4 training sessions within the ISEP (aggregating 160 participants), a short survey based on a questionnaire to foster the co-creation of the energy plan, thematic meetings with stakeholders around biomass (3 meetings and 1 personal interview of experts), open events for RES (2 meetings) and various communication activities.
RLL both as an approach and as an environment provides a meaningful and fruitful concept for regional development and energy transition where different sectors and levels of governance cooperate in the search for a commonly agreed vision and objectives. The case of Karditsa clearly proves the necessity of this approach, let alone the outdated and complicated regulatory framework as well as the lack of policies and financial instruments to pursue integrated energy planning. The added value of co-creation in an LL-environment is recognized and appreciated by regional/local partners in Karditsa, meaning that the core team of stakeholders involved is likely to support and continue participating in the RLL beyond the INTENSSS-PA project.