Midterm Meeting: TANDEMs in Vienna

For its 4th consortium meeting, the partnership gathered in Austria’s capital and delved into the Austrian ways of energy sharing.

Often, since the LIFE project kicked off in 2022, the members of the TANDEMs consortium have gathered in front of their webcams. The partnership has also met four times in real life to discuss ways and strategies for collaboration between citizen-led initiatives and city administrations in the establishment and operation of renewable energy communities. Halfway through the project, the consortium met mid-April for its latest physical meeting. 

The meeting was held in Living Community Gleis21 (Image: Oikoplus).

Although the TANDEMs pilot sites are located in Belgium, Bulgaria, and the Netherlands, the Austrian capital was chosen as the meeting place. For good reason: Austria’s path to decentralized energy supply offers exciting examples of good practice that the consortium wanted to take a closer look at. 

A field visit therefore took the multinational traveling group to St. Pölten, the provincial capital of Lower Austria, just outside Vienna, for an afternoon. There, David Obergruber and Carina Wenda from the city’s Climate Coordination Office (Klimakoordinationsstelle) gave an insight into their work in setting up two municipal energy communities, which should also allow private households to join shortly. Many thanks to the city of St. Pölten at this point. A short walk through the city center then led to the Klangturm in the government district of the provincial capital. There, Dr Herbert Geisberger, Managing Director of the Energy and Environment Agency of Lower Austria (eNu), gave a highly interesting insight into the administrative and economic framework conditions for the operation of energy communities in Austria. He was able to answer numerous questions from the TANDEMs partners about the intricacies of the Austrian energy market and the boom in energy communities in Austria. He emphasized that one of the key elements of energy communities is that they do not just offer an economic model of energy sharing. Still, much more: real communities are created at a local level, with many social aspects. These are just as important for the success of energy sharing as the favorable purchase of energy, he said. 

Dr. Herbert Greisberger, Managing Director of Energy- und Umweltagentur NÖ (eNu) gave a stand-up presentation on top of Klangturm (Image: Oikoplus).

The TANDEMs partners were able to deepen their impressions and learnings from the field visit the following day at an inspirational breakfast in an informal atmosphere. Michaela Kaineder from the Nobilegroup, a company that offers technical solutions for the operation of energy communities, and Mika Hasselbring from Urban Innovation Vienna, were able to offer further exciting insights into the implementation of energy-sharing constructions in Austria. 

The different framework conditions in various European countries were also recognized. The members of the TANDEMs consortium had the opportunity to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of different legislative regulations. These impressions were important because, not least, the TANDEMs project is also about developing concrete policy recommendations based on examples of good practice from Europe. The meeting in Vienna hopefully provided valuable input for this. 

Status updates on every work package were discussed (Image: Oikoplus).

And even though the weather was extremely changeable – typical of April – the friendly working atmosphere certainly helped to ensure that the consortium’s collaboration in the second half of the project continued to be positive and inspiring, not only in terms of content but also on a personal level.

In a public Inspirational Breakfast, Michael Kaineder (Nobile Group), and Mika Hasselbring (Urban Innovation Vienna) shared insight about the Austrian energy sharing models.