ACCESS: Exploring the unknown in a known context

9 April 2021
energy grid

The goal is clear: the European Union shall be climate-neutral by 2050. However, how to attain an economy with net-zero greenhouse gas emissions is less so. According to the official website of the European Commission, “all parts of society and economic sectors will play a role”. Considering the decisive impact the energy transition can have in curbing climate change, projects like ACCESS may play a key role in making a difference.

There is no single solution to achieve such an ambitious and important objective, yet “all must contribute in their own way” says Stina Rydberg, project manager at Johanneberg Science Park and one of the members of the ACCESS project team.

Everyone has different experiences and knowledge, and to use that as a foundation for new efforts has proven to be a success factors in innovation and testing new solutions. With that said, one should of course dare to innovate in unknown territories, but then secure knowledge and resources, internally or externally”, she continuous.

To help maximise the impact and success of the ACCESS project, between January and February 2021 Johanneberg Science Park interviewed the four pilot sites Amersfoort, Malmö, Mechelen and West Suffolk Council and discussed the progress of their respective pilot projects. By identifying their success factors and obstacles half-way through the project, partners will hopefully be able to better address the challenges they face early enough to make a real difference.

Moreover, by sharing these best practices and lessons learned with each other they will also boost cooperation between stakeholders. After all, no single organisation has the expertise or ability to experiment with a broad range of technologies, governance and financing models.

Since no one actor can be the best at everything, it is important that the pilots and partners complement each-other from their position of strength” comments Stina Rydberg.

Learning by doing is inevitable when dealing with innovative projects” states Linnea Johansson, another team member and project leader at Johanneberg Science Park. “Unique challenges call for unique solutions” adds Stina Rydberg, so the key take-aways for each city will be different depending on where they stand. Nonetheless, the following conclusions may be relevant for all:

Act early – timing is everything:

  • Secure resources and knowledgeability from the start, or alternatively allocate time and money for competence development at early stages, to ensure availability of both hands and minds for the project
  • Include the green solutions at the planning stages so their specificities can be accounted for when it matters
  • Include stakeholders from beginning - the obvious and not so obvious ones – and build long term relations with them.

Clear Communication Counts:

  • Define explicit internal processes for stakeholder engagement and task distribution
  • Actors must have easy access to the necessary knowledge and information needed to perform their functions.
  • Engage with stakeholders every step of the way and reaffirm a common understanding of the project objectives.

Last, but not least, “re-scoping a project along the way must not been viewed upon as a failure, rather as brave and wise to adapt ambitions and objectives to current situation or changed circumstances” concludes Linnéa Johansson.

ACCESS

ACCESS empowers cities to coordinate local stakeholders for supporting and investing in the transition of Europe’s energy system. Partners: Amersfoort, West-Suffolk Councils, Malmö, Mechelen, Aarhus University, Johanneberg Science Park, IfM ECS, VITO. Funded by the North Sea Region. Read more

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