Time to summarize POTEnT’s recent advances! The city of Parma held new virtual stakeholders’ group meeting on Thursday 24th June. The agenda was full of topics to discuss: POTEnTs’ Introduction for new entries, the new version of the Regional Action Plan, the role of ICT in PED’s Development, and the results of the stakeholders ‘survey.
Eleven participants attended the meeting, coming from the National Association for New Technologies and Sustainable Development (ENEA), the Italian Energy System Research Agency (RSE), Parma’s Energy and Sustainability Agency (ATES), and two innovative organizations in the field of ICT: ENERBRAIN and MAPS.
After the initial presentation of the project and the Regional Action Plan, the discussion focused on the development of Positive Energy Districts in the city of Parma. In this part of the meeting, the two ICT organizations had their presentation. On one hand, the representative of ENERBRAIN showed an innovative solution: an algorithm that optimizes data through machine learning and artificial intelligence for building automation. This new solution was tested in several establishments such as schools, supermarkets, and industries with an overall energy saving of 27%. Trials and tests are currently underway on applying this technology at the district level to maximize savings. What excellent premises for PEDs!
On the other hand, Maps is an ICT organization that develops software to promote the digital transformation of companies. In particular, Maps have recently created specific packages for energy communities, from design to implementation of new projects including, for example, gamification activities based on token rewards and/or daily tips.
The review of several packages including, innovation (demand-response, energy efficiency optimization), marketing (gamification, Costumer Value improvement), and governance (document tracing and open sources intelligence) paved the way for interesting insights into discussion.
Indeed, apart from the way in which technology improves energy efficiency and RES production, citizens’ consumption habits are always central in this sense. It is true that communication and gamification are crucial for actively involve citizens in energy transition, but their effect might not be linear.
After reviewing a survey that the city of Parma sent to its stakeholders, one open response highlighted the importance of applying persuasive communication with specific objectives to actively involve people in the energy transition. A clear distinction was made: linear communication aims to give citizens’ the know-how to carry out specific activities, such as posing recycle bins on certain days of the week for separate waste collection. However, to truly change people’s behavior in favor of a more sustainable lifestyle, a different approach is required, it is called persuasive communication.
A concept that Implies awareness of the impact of one’s lifestyle on the surrounding environment. Influencers, best practices, carbon footprints calculator, and open sustainability labs are effective initiatives for communicating and arousing virtuous behaviors. However, one thing is clear; communication requires time to bring tangible effects into reality, so no harry!
The conclusion of the meeting was spontaneously postponed due to the lively discussion among various stakeholders. Furthermore, the result of the survey underlined that the key actions concerning energy transition in the RAP, must be carried out following three lines of actions: firstly, by simplifying the regulatory environment, a clear obstacle to the energy transition. Secondly, by increasing and improving communication activities. Thirdly, by unlocking financial and administrative support for new public services to inform and engage citizens, such as the One-Stop Shop. As a result, the strategies and objectives of Parma’s RAP are now clearer, as well as their expected impact on the policy instrument.
A little reminder to all Potenters: make sure not to lose a virtual tour fully focused on the hydrogen initiatives carried out in Sweden and Czech Republic on August 19th, 2021, suitable also for those who wish to avoid the sweltering beaches!