At the beginning, the task looked immense: To give inspiration for climate action to everyone by visualising examples for the energy revolution in each person’s neighbourhood across Europe on a common interactive online map. The related information is so dispersed, that bringing it together on a single map is a huge challenge, but one that has now been overcome thanks to the EU-funded repowermap.org initiative. On the interactive online map, anyone who has installed a renewable energy system or who has constructed an energy efficient building can add their work. The map is being made known in common by a broad and diverse network of organisations and local authorities.
The objective of the initiative is to encourage people to install renewable energy systems and to make their building energy efficient, by inspiring them with examples from their own neighbourhood. The initiative also aims to facilitate information exchange both at local level and across borders.
The non-profit initiative was originally founded in Bern, Switzerland, in 2008, by the Association repowermap.org. Back in 2012, the European Union recognised the potential value of such a map to raise awareness about renewable energy and energy efficiency, to facilitate information exchange and to create synergies between organisations promoting the energy transition. As such the initiative contributes to the achievement of the EU’s 2020 targets on renewable energies, climate protection, and energy efficiency. A proposal for funding was taken up in the Intelligent Energy Europe Programme of the European Union. The related EU-project is coordinated by the Association repowermap.eu from Liechtenstein in cooperation with partner organisations from other European countries.
Two-and-a-half years later, more than 40.000 examples have been made visible on the map in Europe. More than 170 organisations, including major NGOs and renewable energy associations, as well as regions and local authorities are now participating in the initiative by publishing the map on their websites.
“The importance of local examples is often underestimated – people who add their renewable energy system or energy efficient building to the map have an important influence on motivating other people in the neighbourhood to action”, says Roman Bolliger, one of the co-founders of the initiative and coordinator of the EU project.
“The idea for the initiative originated as we were wondering if there are any geothermal heat pumps and solar energy systems in our part of the city - and could not find any information about such local examples”, he recalls. “This led us to think how good it would be if there was a map where such information is made visible. Now each installation or building made visible on the map has multiple benefits – as a smart investment on its own, and as a motivation to action for others in the neighbourhood.”
EHPA is very pleased to see that so many heat pump examples were added to the map. Heat pumps are often overlooked as a technology that uses renewable energy because they operate in the dark. Hidden in basements, on roofs or in machine rooms, they actually use renewable energy from air, water and ground. This makes the technology an essential element of the energy transition, particularly in cities due to its ability to provide greater efficiency as well as to connect electricity and thermal energy grids.
A growing network of organisations, regions, local authorities, companies and other energy actors in more and more countries are supporting and making known this initiative together. By integrating the map into their websites, they make visible examples in their own area as a motivation for climate action. This creates synergies between the many organisations and energy actors who have the same goals: protecting the climate, generating jobs and increasing the energy security by promoting the use of renewable energies and energy efficiency to repower the energy system.