Viladecans has been selected by the European Union, along with Paris and Göteborg, to lead an innovative project on energy transition. The 18 projects chosen in the first call of Urban Innovative Actions were announced on Wednesday, 12 October. 378 proposals were submitted in four different fields of action. In the field of energy transition particularly, 113 applications were registered.
The Mayor of the City, Carlos Ruiz, and the Deputy Mayor for Environment and Sustainable City, José Luis Atienza, attended the political event that was organized in the framework of the European Week of Regions and Cities where the selected cities were announced.
The City Council together with citizens and companies will integrate a new energy operator
Viladecans project involves the creation of a new integrated energy operator formed by citizens, businesses and the City Council, with the aim of achieving a more efficient energy management. This operator will promote the capitalization of savings to finance the comprehensive energy rehabilitation of residential buildings (improving local housing) and will work to strengthen the local economy by setting up the ‘Vilawatt’ as the local energy currency. The initiative will also enable to address social justice goals with the aim to fight energy poverty from within.
The European Union has valued the "innovative and experimental" aspect of the project, as it introduces “solutions to improve the efficiency and reduce dependence on fossil fuels", as well as "the active involvement of citizens in the initiative". The project is expected to start at the beginning of 2017, lasting for a period of 36 months, with an investment of 4.2 million euros from the European Union, 80% of its total cost.
The consortium that will develop the project is formed by the City Council as well as public specialist partners such as the Urban Ecology Agency of Barcelona, which will be the key partner in defining and implementing the local energy operator, and the Catalan Energy Institute who will give its support on defining the model of saving contracts. Also, from the private sector, it will be Ubiquat Technologies who will co-design the local currency and Gespromat, who will bring its experience in the management of social mediation and also the assessment of legal, financial and technical issues related to renovation of buildings. The energy consultant EGM will be responsible for the study and analysis of data in order to create an energy information system and LIMA Association, an organization that promotes sustainable constructions, will bring its experience in construction design with low environmental impact.
CICLICA will be the entity giving its expertise in the participation of the targeted communities, while the municipal companies VIGEM and VIMED from Viladecans, will support the process of management and implementation of the project.
The smallest city amongst the selected
Viladecans has been one of the four Spanish cities -among the 72 that submitted projects- who has seen its projects selected in the first call of Urban Innovative Actions (UIA). The other cities selected are Barcelona, Madrid and Bilbao. In fact, the municipality of Viladecans is the one with the lower population number of all the 18 that have been supported by the UIA. Thus, it has been placed in the same relevance sphere as other major European cities such as Milan, Antwerp, Vienna, Turin and Rotterdam, in addition to the aforementioned Paris, Göteborg, Barcelona, Madrid and Bilbao.
The aim of the UIA program is to encourage innovative, unprecedented, and result-oriented ideas –that in the future could be replicated in other cities- which have been developed in community with the aim of dealing with global challenges.