After 3 years, ISABEL finally successfully completed its cycle. ISABEL’s main aim was to bring a new thinking into the biogas supply chains that will result in the transition to a local and community based governance model, as well as to provide the framework conditions for the biogas energy communities’ take-up by using as a baseline the core interacting elements of local biogas production and consumption but also the community involvement.
Initially, the actions of the project unfolded simultaneously in three regions across Europe located in Germany (Baden-Württemberg), Greece (Central and Eastern Macedonia & Thrace), and the United Kingdom (Yorkshire and Humber) aiming to set up and support local biogas communities providing them with the necessary knowledge and tools to develop and manage their local biogas production and consumption.
The first phase of the project allowed the ISABEL partners to have a better understanding of the local context of the three targeted locations (e.g. public perception on biogas, national framework, key actors, etc.), but also to identify the different biogas maturity level of each region differed. Building upon the experience gathered, the regional ISABEL partners were able to set up detailed plans for the regional stakeholders’ engagement with the view to develop the first instances of the ISABEL biogas energy communities. Based on these plans a wide range of activities were deployed in each targeted region in forms of workshops, informal meetings, gatherings, etc. with the participation of local potential biogas stakeholders (e.g. municipalities, breeders, farmers, and citizens associations, etc.).
ISABEL partners’ efforts successfully resulted in the creation of the biogas communities (3 in Germany, 4 in Greece, and 3 UK), while building upon each region’s local characteristics and working closely with key regional actors community-specific actions plans were developed. As a next step, regional partners assisted the formed communities towards quality sustainability and impact assessment principle but also guide them with the provision of support services and tools, with regards to expert advice, training and communication.
During the final year of the project, another important milestone was the transfer of ISABEL’s approach and findings to other regions of Europe. To accomplish this, 4 international workshops were organised in Albania, Poland, Serbia, and UK, with a view to share experiences and eventually trigger the up-take of ISABEL assets and experience by other regions. Highly motivated stakeholders from several neighborhood countries and regions were invited to participate by representing their region. Eventually, 3 promising cases were identified (one in Albania, one in Poland and one in Spain) and received entry-level support on the implications of the ISABEL community-biogas approach during the last months of the project.
Overall, during these 3 years the ISABEL project managed to successfully engage stakeholders by informing, stimulating and supporting the formation and operation of several regional biogas energy communities. The project’s plan was to promote and support the concept of community biogas, focusing initially in three regions (Germany, Greece, and UK) but also during the last phase to be transferred to other regions of Europe. Throughout the project’s lifecycle ISABEL has produced several valuable findings which are publicly available through the project’s web portal, with a view to assist any relevant stakeholder in the future and empower them in putting forward policy initiatives supporting social innovation and community energy interventions for the growth and sustainability of the biogas sector.