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Sustainable Energy Solutions for Rural Communities
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1  Water, Energy and Environmental Engineering Research Unit, University of Oulu, PO Box 4300, FI-90014 Oulu, Finland

Published: 11 September 2020 by MDPI in The First World Energies Forum session Energy Policy (registering DOI)

The RECENT project intended to enhance the utilization of unused assets in remote and sparsely populated areas and communities. The objectives were to enhance energy efficiency, implement renewable energy solutions and help communities to have more resilient and energy efficient public infrastructures capable of handling climate change related risks. The nexus approach was used to promote the efficient management of resources, i.e., water, waste and energy, while considering the interdependencies between them. The project developed 25 pilots related to energy, energy efficiency, waste, and water solutions across five Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme (NPA) partner regions (Finland, Sweden, Northern Ireland, Ireland, and Scotland). The project assessed energy generation and reduction potential; investment costs and payback times of the pilots. A sustainability assessment tool was also developed, to assess the environmental, social and long-term sustainability of the pilots. The combined benefit of the 25 pilots was 20 GWh/year renewable energy and saving 6070 t of CO2/year. The sustainability assessment also highlighted the social benefits to the community. The project established opportunities for new ways of providing environmental goods and services and supporting innovative infrastructures based on the nexus approach of water-energy-waste-land resources. These innovative infrastructures would be based on decentralized systems which allow for synergies between different assets. These synergistic solutions can contribute significantly to the reduction of resource consumption and related emissions and to the sustainable development of European communities.

Keywords: renewable energy; energy efficiency; resource use and management; energy-waste-water-land –nexus; sustainability assessment