As the United Nations climate talks are rapidly approaching, six EU islands are setting an example for turning decarbonisation into a reality, drawing on the resources of their citizens.

Selected by the Clean Energy for EU Islands Initiative of the European Commission in February 2019, the islands of Spain’s La Palma, Portugal’s Culatra, Italy’s Salina, Croatia’s Cres-Losinj, Greece’s Sifnos and Ireland’s Aran Islands aim to set an example for realising an energy transition that is rooted in and driven by the local community.

For instance, the Cres-Losinj archipelago aims to fully decarbonise its energy sector by 2040, and several islands aim for 100% renewables.

The six European islands published on 20 November their clean energy transition agendas, making a firm step towards decarbonising their energy systems with a strong focus on citizen engagement. The six islands have each developed decarbonisation pathways tailored to their individual needs and assets over the past nine months.

The six clean energy transition agendas are published in the context of the fourth Clean Energy for EU Islands Forum in Split and Hvar, Croatia, where stakeholders of the EU islands community meet from 20-22 November to discuss transition pathways, technologies and opportunities for actively involving citizens, Clean Energy for EU Islands said in a press release.

“Thanks to the evolution of technology, the potential for reducing energy costs on islands and moving towards energy autonomy has never been greater,” said Ditte Juul-Jørgensen, the director-general of the European Commission’s energy department. “Established in the context of the Clean Energy for all Europeans package, the Clean Energy for EU Islands Initiative is set up to assist and accelerate this process. Moreover, islands can be lighthouses for global climate action. Whether it’s through more wind power, retrofitting homes, moving towards electric mobility, decarbonising maritime transport or deploying renewable energy for domestic hot water and heating, the decarbonisation solutions showcased by these six pilot islands will veer them towards higher energy efficiency, more renewables and low-carbon pathways,” she added.

According to Clean Energy for EU Islands, the Cres-Lošinj archipelago aims to completely decarbonise its energy system by 2040. This will be done in part through community-owned solar farms.

Culatra will work towards 100% renewable energy self-consumption, which will be owned by the local community.

The Aran Islands will install community-owned wind power, retrofit homes, and deploy heat pumps or other renewable energy sources for domestic hot water and space heating

Salina aims to increase public awareness on energy and environment. Salina will decarbonise its power generation plants, switch to 100% electric/hybrid mobility on the Island, increase efficiency in its buildings and decarbonise its maritime transport.

La Palma aims for full decarbonisation and self-sufficiency in the energy sector.  The island transition team puts a strong focus on building a resilient island energy system, actively involving the more than 100 local associations who committed to supporting the island’s transition.

Sifnos aims to become 100% renewable and self-sufficient, and has developed a number of pathways the island could follow to achieve this goal. Any installations will be co-owned by the local community and private investors.

The islands’ transition agendas were co-authored by the island transition teams and the Clean Energy for EU Islands Secretariat. Armed with these agendas, these six islands will in the coming months hone in on project development and strengthening their engagement strategies for the local community, Clean Energy for EU Islands said, adding that a number of other EU islands are currently in the process of developing clean energy transition agendas and will publish them in the coming year.

As part of the EU’s Clean Energy for All Europeans package, the EU’s Clean Energy for EU Islands initiative provides a long term framework to help islands generate their own sustainable, low-cost energy. The Clean Energy for EU Islands initiative was launched in May 2017 in Malta, when the European Commission and 14 EU countries – Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden – signed a Political Declaration for the decarbonisation of EU islands.