EC4RURAL project

EC4RURAL project

Ten organisations from Spain, Estonia and Belgium participate in the European project EC4RURAL to foster the clean energy transition in European rural areas.

With a budget of 1.6 million euros, the EC4RURAL project is co-funded by the Life Programme and will be implemented in the period 2023-2027.

The University of Vigo leads the multidisciplinary consortium including the University of Tartu (EE), the Galician Federation of Municipalities and Provinces (ES), the Association of Estonian Cities and Municipalities (EE), the Tartu Regional Energy Agency (EE), Sapiens Energía (ES), the Estonian Leader Union (ELU), Espazocoop Union of Galician Cooperatives (ES), Juana de Vega Foundation (ES) and the European LEADER Association for Rural Development (BE).

“Fostering local engagement for Clean Energy Transition in Rural Areas through Energy Communities” is the title of a new European project led by the University of Vigo. The project is co-funded by the LIFE Programme, under the sub-programme Clean Energy Transition, and was approved after a very competitive process. The project started on September 1st, 2023, and it will last for 48 months.

EC4RURAL will boost the creation of Energy Communities (REC) in rural municipalities, which are in a disadvantaged situation in Europe despite their wealth of resources. Common challenges such as population shrinking, limited access to basic services and employment, often translate into energy poverty of rural inhabitants derived from the current high energy prices.

EC4RURAL project aims to help deepen and transform relationships between local and regional authorities and rural communities to contribute to the clean energy transition (CET) in Europe while ensuring active participation of rural areas and local stakeholders and making sure they are not left behind. The project will make sure that rural communities are part of and benefit from CET processes led by communities producing electricity through photovoltaic panels.

EC4RURAL will lead the way for changes in consumer and corporate behaviour, facilitating increased dialogue and joint investments of public and private actors as established by the European Green Deal (EGD). EC4RURAL will also contribute to rural development within the new Common Agricultural Policy, as well as to the European Rural Pact and the Territorial Cohesion Policy. Close cooperation with the Local Action Groups (LAG) will be an essential part of the EC4RURAL methodology.

The paradigm shift will be led by two pilots that will be established in Estonia and Spain, with a total of 34 case studies in different rural municipalities: 22 in Galicia (Spain) and 12 in Estonia. The pilots will sow the seed for future replicability, not only in the participating regions, but also at European level, thanks to the dissemination of results through the network of external partners and collaborators.