Regional Living Labs – A concept for Integrated Sustainable Energy Planning

Posted on May 29, 2017

The Living Lab concept is the framework chosen by INTENSSS-PA to guide the development of the Energy Plans within each region. As a research methodology for developing complex solutions within complex contexts, it focuses on the enhancement of a planning process that should and could be able to be performed on different levels of governance. Ideally, it will constitute the environment of collaboration between governance levels, aiming at developing a decision making process.

The Living Labs implemented in each Member State, Regional Living Labs, are coordinated by the public authorities and supported by an interdisciplinary Project Team and by the different facilitators in each region (private companies, associations and institutions of higher learning). They gather a wide group of stakeholders involved or affected by the energy and spatial development so as to collaboratively innovate, i.e. design, experiment, and evaluate an innovative energy related planning concept. Regional Living Labs add value to the process by developing the planning concept and strategies in relation to a more open and collaborative approach to governance, making the actors involved more effective and the decisions they make more legitimate.

Regional Living Labs aim to create an interdisciplinary and transversal working environment that is essential to ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of participants in the creation of the integrated sustainable energy planning concept and its acceptance. The process of the Living Lab is based on the participation and joint development of ideas, concepts or methods which integrate, since its creation, the particularities and criteria of all agents that will be affected to mitigate and minimize the final problems and increase the final acceptance. This Holistic Energy Planning Environment that INTENSSS-PA aims to develop, evaluate and exploit is graphically represented in following figure:

Thus, the main objectives of the Regional Living Labs in each region are:

  • Work as a team to design, implement, apply and evaluate a sustainable and integrated energy planning concept.
  • Develop, reinforce or redefine, and solve, a real case of sustainable and integrated energy planning.
  • Generate a network of contacts and collaboration among all agents involved in spatial planning and energy.

Although the Regional Living Labs are operated under the same methodological framework, they show different structures and characteristics due to the distinct nature, cultural characteristics and governance structures in each Member State. Each Regional Living Lab has adapted itself to its particular conditions in order to create the most suitable working environment to achieve a successful and widely accepted plan.

The seven regions have already started their work and have completed the first two steps of the working process consisting in, firstly, the context analysis and establishment of the Regional Living Labs itself, and secondly, the identification of the desired plan and the planning implementation process. The current phase of the project is the actual experimentation of the Integrated Sustainable Energy Plan as part of the Co-Planning stage. Within this year, all regions will develop their plans along with the whole constellation of stakeholders taking part in the Regional Living Lab, and the whole process will be constantly validated and enhanced in an iterative process.

The result of the interdisciplinary decision-making process within these environments will define the blueprint for the regional energy and spatial integrated development and will validate the Living Lab concept for further projects and developments.

RLL CalabriaRLL of Calabria

UdklipRLL of Groningen

Meeting in the Spanish RLLRLL of Castilla y León

RLL pomurje RLL of Pomurje

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