TANDEMS sister projects: Breaking barriers, building bridges in LIFE LOOP

At the heart of the LIFE LOOP project lies a vision for a 100% community-led renewable energy transition. Despite the commendable efforts of citizen energy cooperatives and local authorities, many municipalities face significant challenges in prioritizing clean community energy. These challenges are both internal and external, making it difficult to push forward with such essential initiatives. The LIFE LOOP project aims to break these barriers by raising awareness about the benefits of community energy and equipping municipalities with the capacity to initiate new energy projects, especially in regions where the community approach is undervalued.

Pioneering progress: from pilot sites to replication

LIFE LOOP’s pilot sites are located in Crete, Greece; Zagreb, Croatia; and Bistrița, Romania. These sites serve as testing grounds for the project’s initiatives, which will later be replicated in Sardinia, Italy; Gabrovo, Bulgaria (which is also a pilot site in the TANDEMS project); Tulcea, Romania; and Cyprus.

Strategies for success: building capacity, raising awareness, and fostering collaboration

To achieve its objectives, LIFE LOOP combines EU-wide and local activities that involve municipalities, energy cooperatives, citizens, and other stakeholders. The project focuses on building capacity by providing training and resources to local authorities and citizen groups, empowering them to start and manage energy projects. Raising awareness is another critical component, with targeted campaigns designed to highlight the benefits of community energy and the potential for local sustainable energy initiatives. At the heart of the LIFE LOOP project stands the community energy accreditation scheme. This program is designed to bridge the knowledge gap by offering municipalities online training sessions on community energy topics and by allowing them to self-assess their current community energy support. By participating, municipalities gain access to valuable online resources and a networking platform that facilitates effective partnerships between municipalities, energy communities, and citizen-led initiatives.

Driving change: catalyzing collaboration for implementing local energy and climate plans

By putting people at the heart of the clean energy transition, LIFE LOOP aims to catalyze significant change. Successful community energy projects and the collaboration between citizens and local authorities can increase social acceptance of renewable energy projects, boost local economies by keeping money within the community and creating jobs, and enhance energy resilience through energy efficiency and sustainable practices.

Navigating challenges, embracing opportunities

However, the journey is not without challenges. Regulatory barriers, funding constraints, and limited awareness among citizens and authorities can hinder progress. Yet, these challenges also present opportunities. Successful pilot projects can provide evidence to shape supportive policies, while raising awareness can drive citizen interest and participation in energy projects. Expanding successful models to new regions can amplify the project’s impact.

Key lessons learned: collaboration, communication, and inclusivity

Key lessons from LIFE LOOP highlight the importance of collaboration, tailored communication, and inclusive practices. Strong partnerships between diverse stakeholders are essential for the success of community energy projects. Effective outreach strategies must consider regional contexts and specific audience needs, and gender-just approaches enhance the effectiveness and reach of energy initiatives. Local engagement from the outset ensures greater acceptance and sustainability, although working with municipalities requires patience and hands-on activities that demand minimal time from local authority representatives.