SID-UNIDO-ADA-IIASA workshop series

„Local initiatives for energy management“

Introduction

The Vienna chapter of the Society for International Development(SID), an international NGO undertaking global activities that, inter alia, include promoting the concept of sustainable development organized three workshops together with international organizations in the Vienna region and five universities in the city on “Local initiatives for energy management“. These workshops were the second of a planned series over the next years.

The goal of the workshops is to promote a dialogue between academia (scholars, researchers and students), representatives of local initiatives and policy-makers responsible for driving sustainable development objectives. The workshops complement a series of lectures that are held at the participating universities as well occasional talks organized by the Vienna chapter of SID on issues related to sustainable development. Its direct beneficiaries will be students and young academics from the participating universities, as well as companies and local initiatives and policy-makers from developing countries.

The workshops in 2012 constituted the core of a broader project extending over the whole of the summer semester. The meetings also offered opportunities for direct discussions and networking among the participants. The workshops were held in Vienna and Laxenburg (more details in the workshop agenda below). The central theme of this year’s project was the access to energy for all and its importance for sustainable development, a topic high on the agenda of the UN now and in the future.

Context

Access to energy is a key issue now and for the years to come. Energy is an indispensable factor of production as well as a necessary prerequisite for the use of many consumption goods and services, among these modern communication and learning services. Development hence critically depends on its availability, affordability and common access for all.

The prevalent system of energy supply, based mainly on fossil fuels, and in peripheral regions also on traditional biofuels, faces serious challenges. It is widely acknowledged today that the present system is not sustainable. The threats being faced are the expected shrinking of finite, economically exploitable, fossil resources (“peak-oil”) as well as the negative impacts of their use on the world climate. The transition to a new, sustainable energy future is already on its way and policies to promote change are being designed and increasingly implemented.

The situation in less developed, particularly peripheral regions in all countries of the world, but particularly in the South, is precarious. Access to energy, even of a very traditional type, is very limited and the necessary change to a sustainable system with its new technologies even more so. In recognition of this challenge access to energy has become a priority theme of the UN for the coming decade.

To cope with these challenges, local/regional initiatives were created by concerned citizens in addition to initiatives by governments and international institutions dealing with development. These local/regional initiatives are often based on the conviction that activities by central policy makers will take a long time to touch down in more rural or peripheral places, hence only local initiatives offer a chance to overcome the deficits in sustainable energy supply. New technologies offer hitherto unknown possibilities for decentralized systems of energy supply, providing opportunities to improve the life of people even in remote areas.

To cope with the challenges implied, new management systems are needed to deal with many critical aspects, such as:

-legal status and form of organization

-management system and logistics within the organization

-process of creation and sustainability of appropriate institutions

-scope of management activities (full/partial independence, relation to “grid”, use of consumption standards, e.g. 2000W society)

-technologies used

-financing (investment, subsidies, pricing system, taxes,….)

-location of facilities

-the role of consultants, etc.

Education has an important role to play in preparing the new energy future. It is in this vein that the idea of a workshop with students preparing for various future professional careers coming from countries from all over the world was born. The students should become aware of the challenges and have a chance to listen and talk to people who have been participating in initiatives to shape future energy management systems. This will help them to become innovators in the field themselves.

Summary of events

  • The first workshop took place on March 29, 2012 in the VIC, Wagramerstraße 2, A-1220, Vienna. The objective was to introduce the students to the work of two organizations working in the field. The presentations by A.P. Mhlanga (UNIDO) and R. Huepfl (ADC and ADA) highlighted the challenges energy policy and projects in developing countries are facing and the programs and activities carried out worldwide .

Agenda and presentations: [ZIP]

  • The second workshop took place in Schloss Laxenburg, hosted by IIASA on June 5 and 6, 2012. The purpose of the meeting was to get an input from experts and people actually working in the field of energy policy as well as from representatives of local initiatives. The students were just starting to draft their seminar papers at this time; the workshop provided an opportunity to discuss their drafts and widen their knowledge in energy issues.

Agenda and presentations: [ZIP]

  • The third workshop, held at UNIDO on July 5, gave the students a chance to present their work to a group of experts providing critical feedback.

Agenda and presentations: [ZIP]


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