Under the leadership of the Belgian consulting company for renewable energy 3E, a consortium has started in Brussels, which will effectuate the activities of the Clean Energy for EU Islands Initiative, also known as the EU Islands Secretariat, for the next two years. The Secretariat will continue the activities from the successful first phase, in which the Croatian islands of Brač, Cres, Hvar, Korčula and Lošinj also participated, which drafted energy transition plans, on the basis of which they will be able to apply for the withdrawal of European funds.
Over the next two years, the Secretariat will continue to provide support to European islands in the field of energy transition. To the islands that did not engage in the first phase and are starting to establish dialogue, the Secretariat will continue to provide assistance in building community and defining transition strategies. For those islands that have already prepared transition plans and are ready to implement energy strategies, the Secretariat will bestow support in designing concrete projects and finding sources of funding.
The new phase of the Clean Energy for EU Islands Initiative builds on the experience of the Secretariat’s work to date and will focus particularly on detecting and eliminating technical, social, financial, legal and political barriers obstructing island energy projects. Starting from the “explore, shape, act” approach, each island will be provided with tailored technical assistance for transition strategies, action plans and concrete energy projects. In the spring of 2021, we expect to announce an application to which islanders will be able to submit project descriptions and apply for technical assistance.
“The second phase of the EU Islands Secretariat is a confirmation of the justification of the Clean Energy for EU Islands Initiative and a guarantee that the islands will remain at the forefront of the European energy transition. Five Croatian island communities have already participated in the work of the Secretariat in its first phase and I expect their further engagement as well as inclusion of some other new islands. Energy transition is an excellent opportunity for attracting investments and opening new green jobs on the islands, but also for contribution in the fight against climate change, the consequences of which we all feel. Croatian islands have extraordinary potential and judging by the results from the previous two years of the Secretariat's work, we have reason to be optimistic”, said Picula on the occasion of the beginning of the second phase of the Secretariat for Islands.
The active participation of islanders is crucial, so the Secretariat announced the implementation of the Energy Academy through which it will engage island communities to act at the local level and take an active role in energy transition projects on their islands. A new platform called the Island Market will connect island projects with investors and technological solutions, and a new island think-tank will be established to bring together stakeholders from all levels of government to remove legal and regulatory barriers to the island’s energy transition. For MP Picula, the Chairman of the Intergroup for Seas, Rivers, Islands and Coastal Areas, the islands have long been the focus of action.
In 2017, Picula submitted an amendment within the project “Strengthening cooperation on climate action on islands, inside and outside the EU through the creation of an island identity’ and provided 2 million euros for the establishment of the EU Islands Secretariat. It was the first working body in the history of the EU to be exclusively available to islanders, and at the same time to assist the Commission in adapting existing energy policies and funds on the islands. The success of the first phase of the Secretariat and Picula’s new amendment to the 2020 budget have provided an additional 2 million euros for the second phase and technical assistance to the islands regarding applications for European projects for the transition to renewable energy sources.