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COLEOPTER – Local Consensus building for the Optimization of Territorial Policies on Rural Energy

The COLEOPTER project (COncertation LocalE pour l’Optimisation des Politiques Territoriales pour l’Energie Rurale) was submitted on March 29th to the 3rd Call for project of the Interreg Sudoe Programme. Here is a short description of the project:

COLEOPTER addresses two challenges of energy efficiency in buildings: (1) difficulties for rural municipalities to take action and conduct work despite the positive local impact (savings, local employment); 2/lack of awareness in building challenges translating into an irrational use of energy and low renovation rates.

COLEOPTER develops an integrated approach of efficiency in public buildings, associating social, political and technical challenges. The COLEOPTER approach has three components:

  • Conducting territorial dialogue with local actors to co-construct work plans of public buildings
  • Using BIM, a database software for building information modeling, as a collaborative tool to support the dialogue
  • Considering water efficiency issues along with energy challenges to better consider the usage dimension

It will be tested on 4 demonstrators related to children and the local community, 3 to be renovated (a sport facility in Póvoa de Lanhoso – Portugal, a recreation center in Cartagena – Spain, a day care in Est Creuse -France) and 1 new building (a daycare in Est Creuse) comparable with the other day care building.  COLEOPTER approach will be replicated in Escaldes-Engordany (Andorra) to validate its transferability.

The change expected is the implementation of a participative approach on energy efficiency challenges, and raised awareness and involvement of local stakeholders, leading to a better efficiency of energy efficiency policies and increased public and private renovation rates.

The consortium is made of 8 public and private partners:

  • Póvoa de Lanhoso, a rural municipality in the north of Portugal;
  • CIM do AVE, the association of municipalities encompassing the
    Póvoa de Lanhoso, Portugal
  • Adene, the national energy agency of Portugal
  • Syndicat mixte Est Creuse, groupment of 2 municipalities in France
  • The Politecnic University of Catalunya
  • The Technological Center for Energy and the Environment in the region of Murcia (CETENMA), Spain
  • The ayuntamiento of Cartagena, Spain
  • RURENER, project coordinator

Final decisions on the call on June 18th 2019… Let’s cross fingers!

If you wish to follow the project and its results, let us know and become part of the community of interest.

Smart Eco-Social Villages

The pilot project “Smart Eco-Social Villages” initiated by the EU Parliament and supported by the EU Commission is about to end, a final event took place on February 21st and 22nd at the EU Parliament to share the lessons learned and talk about what it means for EU policies and budget.

Opening of the Smart Villages event in the EU Parliament

The goals of the project were to maps the rural challenges in Europe, to give a definition of Smart Villages and to identify practical solutions. You probably have your own definition of what a Smart Village is, but how can we give a generic definition? Here is the one proposed by the pilot project, from the 30 interviews conducted in 19 villages from 13 European countries, the online consultation and the collaborative workshop:

“Smart Villages are communities in rural areas that use innovative solutions to improve their resilience, building on local strengths and opportunities. They rely on a participatory approach to develop and implement their strategy to improve their economic, social and/or environmental conditions, in particular by mobilising solutions offered by digital technologies. Smart Villages benefit from cooperation and alliances with other communities and actors in rural and urban areas. The initiation and the implementation of Smart Village strategies may build on existing initiatives and can be funded by a variety of public and private sources.”

To complete the definition, the key terms are further defined by the project:

“Communities in rural areas can include one or several human settlements, without any restrictions regarding the administrative boundaries or the number of inhabitants. As regards eligibility conditions for support, Member States may use definitions of rural areas as provided for by the OECD, EUROSTAT or other definitions.”

“A participatory approach means an active participation of the local community in the drawing up and decision-making regarding the Smart Village strategy. During the implementation phase, the participatory approach will ensure that the needs for capacity building and for training of people are properly addressed.”

“Digital technologies include, for example, information and communication technologies, the exploitation of big data or innovations related to the use of the Internet of Things (IoT). They act as a lever to enable Smart Villages to become more agile, make better use of their resources and improve the attractiveness of rural areas and the quality of life of rural residents. The use of digital technologies is not a precondition for becoming a Smart Village. Where possible, high-speed broadband will facilitate the deployment of the digital solutions.”

“Smart Village strategies respond to the challenges and needs of their territory by building on their local strengths and assets. Strategies must determine short, medium and long-term goals. Progress must be measurable through performance indicators that will be set in a roadmap. These roadmaps should be reviewed at regular intervals to allow continuous improvement. Strategies may aim, for example: to improve access to services (in various fields such as health, training or transport), to enhance business opportunities and create jobs, to the development of short food supply chains and farming practices, to the development of renewable energies, to development of a circular economy, to a better exploitation of natural resources, to adapt to climate change, to preserve the environment and biodiversity, to a better valorisation of the cultural heritage for a greater tourist attractiveness etc. “

Tibor Szanyi, MEP

Smart Villages do exist as of now, the project gave them the name “Smart” to describe their innovation. They will be integrated into EU policies, as annonced, first as a result indicator in the CAP strategy plans, and funding will be dedicated to them as of 18% of the 5% of the Cohesion fund dedicated to rural and handicaped areas development (to be confirmed by EU Commission during the plenary session in March). This would represent about 2.4 billion € for the implementation of Smart Villages in Europe, and 14.5 billion € for rural development. Another significative progress that was reminded is the Agreement of October 3rd 2018 in favor of a European Rural Agenda, proposition pushed forward by the European Countryside Movement and RURENER through the RUMRA intergroup.

Questions remain regarding the link to the LEADER programme and the underlying strategy to plan rural development on the long term. Indeed, if it looks good to be a “Smart Village” today, the ambition must remain despite the changes of terminology in EU policies. To be continued…


Compte-rendu de l’événement (RURENER)

Sustainable Tourism for Rural Development in Bergamo – Italy

On February 14th-16th the second edition of the Sustainable Tourism for Rural Development (STRD) event took place in Bergamo, Italy. RURENER was invited to talk about the Lands of Study initiative, promoting rural territories for their exemplarity in terms of energy. It was a good opportunity to evaluate the relevant of the offer within the world of tourism… And it was well received! The pilot territories currently involved in the project were presented with a focus on the Natural Park of Gaume (Belgium) and the Communauté d’agglomération de l’Ouest Rhodanien (France). There’s work ahead to develop the offer further, but Lands of Study has potential to make its place in the tourism market.

Presentation of the Lands of Study by Céline

If you’re not familiar with the Lands of Study, visit the page on our website!

And of you’re interested in becoming a Land of Study, send us an email and we will check out your potential!

European Conference for the Energy Transition 2019

The 20th edition of the European Conference for the Energy Transition took place in Dunkirk from the 22nd to the 24th of January. The event gathered around 2,500 people, ten times more than for its first edition in 1999: local authories, energy experts, associations and networks, governments, businesses, students, etc. Three stimulating days to learn about what’s happening in other places and how we can reach our common goals… And there’s work ahead of us!

Palace of congress: Kursaal Dunkirk

RURENER was present and presented a session untitled “Governance in transition: rural territories speaking”. We started the session with Stéphane Hartman who presented the process of citizens’ involvement in the Province of Luxembourg, from the Citizen Climate Assembly to the reinforcement of citizens power in the territory. Josep Subirana Jové followed, presenting the achievements of the municipality of Avià in Catalunya. In Avià, the municipality was the first to choose the sustainable development path, seeing it as the only way to go. Reinvesting the money from the energy savings, the municipality encourages financially local citizens and local businesses to invest in renewable energy.

Josep and Celine (RURENER Coordinator)

Last but not least, Philippe Cortès, founder of the SME Granges Solaires shared his insights on the necessity to relocalize energy and change the centralised system to a decentralized production. He highlighted the crucial role of local municipalities and citizens to face the energy challenges. Vice-president of RURENER, Philippe also emphasized on the importance of sharing experience and knowledge through networks like RURENER to gain time and money and learn from one another.

The panel

We decided to give the final word of the session to the audience and asked them what word came to their mind when talking about “governance”, here’s what they said:

And you, what do you think? Is governance a subject you want to address in your territory? Did you experiment solutions? Let us know!

Download the full report here!

And then, COP24 was over

From December 3rd to December 14th, the Conference Of the Parties (COP) 24 was held in Katowice, Poland. What to do with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s special report on the impacts of a 1.5°C rise? The report, requested during COP21, was not welcomed as four countries – the USA, Russia, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia – refused to do so, stating there were scientific gaps within the report. Even thou countries are invited to use it, the report was not officially welcomed during COP24 which raises many questions as of the engagement of the world’s countries. 

The Paris rulebook was agreed, defining how countries contribute financially to the fight against climate change, and how their manage (and lower) their emissions.  Some delicate questions however, were delayed to COP25 in Chile, for instance the voluntary carbon markets. 

More details on the outcomes of COP24 here : 

All in all, COP24 reflects the difficulties of the governments to reach an agreement that can really make a difference. Once more, we are far from the strong commitments needed, and the young Greta Thunberg  (15) from Sweden says it all. Is she right? Are we completely helpless to face climate change? 

Maybe we can still make a difference. We, at the local level. To show governments how it’s done. Once they can see it’s possible, maybe they will believe it and use these examples to make their policies. As Greta says, “instead of looking for hope, let’s look for actions because when you start to act, hope is everywhere”.

Brace yourself, if the change is coming, it's coming from "the bottom"!

An inspiring initiative in Avià, Catalunya

Avià is a small municipality in Catalunya, part of the Bergueda county and about 1h30 drive north of Barcelona. With its 2 257 inhabitants, Avià is a rural community that committed to the energy transition for two main reasons. One is that climate change is an urgent threat and that we must ALL act NOW if we want our children to live on a liveable planet. Two is that the energy transition is a real opportunity for local development. Indeed, Avià has been giving subsidies to its inhabitants thanks to the energy savings made on public buildings and lighting. These savings represent 50 000€ every year, a significant amount that is re-injected in the local economy. Economy also comes from the installation of solar panels on public buildings, now facilitated by the change of regulation concerning self-consumption in Spain. With this economy, the local government of Avià give 2,000€ subsidies to private individuals and industries willing to self-produce their electricity using solar panels.

A pioneer Local Urban Plan is about to be approved by the Territorial Planning Commission of Central Catalunya, authorizing the installations of solar panels on the buildings of the city with the lowest limitations possible. The should boost the installations of solar panels and may allow Avià to become the town with the most solar panels in Catalunya!

But that’s not it, the energy transition is a real transversal challenges and Avià took it as such. They created a local carpooling system, invested in biodegradable public dog bags.

Avià has muh more to offer, and not just regarding energy, the town promotes the work of local artists as well. Avià puts a focus on local development as mentionned in introduction of the post, but local does not mean isolated and cooperation and exchanges of experience mean a lot to the local government. In this regard, they also support the use of solar energy in Senegal (training of local people for maintenance of solar panels…).

We hope this got you motivated to take action because local governments can make a difference. Change is implemented at the local level, always keep that in mind!

If you want to hear more about Avià or directly get in touch with the Councilor for the Environment of the town, Josep Subirana, who will be delighted to tell you more, send us an email at

Thank you for making RURENER 2018 General Assembly a success!

From September 12th to September 14th, RURENER had its 2018 General Assembly, hosted by Le Pays de Combraille en Marche in the Creuse department, France.  It was a great opportunity for our members to meet and discuss about their common interests and problematics regarding how to conduct the energy transition in rural areas.

We had the opportunity to visit different places, all linked to the energy transition :

  • Wood-fuel heat network with a storage platform in Parsac-Rimondeix
  • Waste heat project from thermal activity in Evaux-les-Bains
  • Visit of Filature Fonty, a spinning-industry very involved in renewables, in Rougnat
  • Inauguration of the “Halle Petite Vitesse” in Felletin, made with a solar roof

See Full Report RURENER 2018 General Assembly

We would like to thank everyone that came to this field study tour as well as our General Assembly : our dear members, the elected representatives that welcomed us, and Le Pays de Combraille en Marche for their hospitality.

See you next year !

Participate to our 2018 General Assembly !


From September 12th to September 14th will take place our 2018 General Assembly, associated with a field study tour, “From idea to action for the energy transition in rural Europe” hosted by Le Pays de Combraille en Marche (Creuse department, France). We invite you to learn more about the detailed programme here (English) or here (Français).

Many visits are planned on thursday, such as :

  • Waste heat project from thermal activity
  • Hot water production from renewable energy
  • Energy efficiency in private buildings
  • Inauguration of a solar roof on an old merchandise hall

For more information on tariffs, see our “Events” page and click on “RURENER General Assembly 2018”. Hope we will see you there !

Discover our new logo !

RURENER exists since 2008 and promotes a transversal approach of rural development by addressing the energy issues. Our network is growing everyday and it was time to give a little kick to our graphic charter and think about a more modern logo.

So here it is ! We are proud to present you our brand new logo, made with love. If you are a member of our network, we invite you to use this new logo by downloading it here or here. If you are not a member yet, and whish to, we invite you to contact us at We would be happy to count you as a new partner !

Go follow us on Facebook and Twitter to hear some news about rural energy in Europe !

The RURENER team