Moving beyond ‘brown coal’ in Europe’s rural regions

Together with Partners, EIT Climate-KIC is leading a process aimed at supporting stakeholders in three European lignite regions transition from high economic dependence on lignite to a low-carbon future. Lignite is considered the lowest rank of coal, or ‘brown coal’. It is one of the most polluting forms of coal because its lower density means more needs to be burned to produce a unit of power. 

The “Reboost – a Boost for Rural Lignite Regions” initiative, involving Lusatia in Germany, Eastern Wielkopolska region in Poland and Gorj in Romania, intends to engage and empower local actors to develop resilient and robust sustainable development strategies as part of the European Green Deal Investment Plan and the Just Transition Mechanism.

The brown coal market is still significant in Europe. The mining of lignite is quantitatively much larger than that of hard coal, as much more coal is needed to produce the same amount of energy. 244 million tonnes of it was mined in Europe in 2020, most of it in Germany, which is the main producer. In 2018, 9 % of the total gross electricity generation in the EU was based on lignite, equivalent to about 292 000 GWh. Furthermore, Germany accounted for 45 % of all lignite produced in the EU.

A just transition

In 2020, the Reboost project brought together partners related to lignite-dependent regions, such as Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Centre for Systems Solutions, Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg, Timis Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture (CCIAT), E3G Germany, Bankwatch Romania and Instytut Zielonej Przyszłości. Lusatia in Germany, Eastern Wielkopolska in Poland, and Gorj in Romania have some common features that hinder the transformation process, including economic slowdown, ageing populations, a lack of employment opportunities, and weak cooperation among stakeholders. The project is structured around three themes that focus on different aspects of regional transformations: developing a mutual understanding of regional ecosystems, understanding the barriers to shifting away from brown coal and identifying ways to overcome them, and developing new economic opportunities with the regions.

“Through working with coal regions across Europe, EIT Climate-KIC develops the most effective approaches to support the Just Transition. By engaging local change leaders, communities and building connections between coal regions, we create the competence and give empowerment needed for an inevitable transformation. One of the main blockages we identified when exploring lignite regions in the EU is the lack of dialogue, cooperation and effective ways to learn from each other. The aim of this project is to facilitate dialogue between regions at different stages of the transition.” – Joanna Sabat, Reboost leading Developer, Ecosystems Development, Demand Generation and National Systems Transformation CEE, EIT Climate-KIC.

Tools and workshops

The initiative explores the political, socio-economic and geographic characteristics of the regions through a variety of tools.  

One of the most important is the strategic simulation technique to help engage local stakeholders in designing and exploring alternative development paths. The initiative also promotes reskilling and stakeholder coalition building for regional transformation and explores the possibilities of implementing any promising future development options discovered.  

Recently, the project held a series of strategic simulation workshops with local stakeholders to engage them in the regional dialogue on the current situation. The workshops aimed to develop and discuss the future shape of the regions and pathways towards transformation. Participants had the opportunity to generate and test transition strategies to new energy sources, experience and understand the complexity of a systemic approach, learn how to foster and integrate both technological and social energy innovations, and share their experiences.  

Complementary approaches such as deep listening methods and economic evaluation techniques are used to assess the alternatives to lignite-fired power generation and the impact on the local economy and labour market and to fully explore the priorities of different stakeholder groups.  

The Reboost project also explores the opportunities for increased engagement in EU policy processes and funding opportunities.  

Online games and the culture train

In addition, the Centre for Systems Solutions (CRS), together with project partners is preparing an online social simulation game, planned to be applicable to any region struggling with the energy transition. The aim of the game is to support the dialogue of local actors. Players will explore an interactive environment resembling the main socio-economic and geographical characteristics of the actual regions. The results of the simulations will be shared to stimulate mutual learning and innovation diffusion across the three regions. At the end of the project, CRS will develop a multiplayer online game for dissemination purposes.

To increase the outreach of the project, the partners are planning a series of events this summer, such as Open-Air Climate Talks and presentations at Deutsche Bahn Culture Train, scheduled on 21-22.08.2021. On the way from Berlin to Wroclaw and back, presentations on the project goals and interactive exercises with passengers on the future development of Lusatia are planned.

Learn more and buy tickets here

 

 
Location
Germany
Articles you may be interested in
In The News
In the face of complex challenges, Europe stronger together, says EU President...

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen outlined her...

In the face of complex challenges, Europe stronger together, says EU President von der Leyen
In The News
New IPCC report reveals urgent need for climate innovation

The IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report has launched. The report...

New IPCC report reveals urgent need for climate innovation
In The News
EU’s “Fit for 55” to spur policy innovation for climate action

The European Commission has released its “Fit for 55”...

EU’s “Fit for 55” to spur policy innovation for climate action
In The News
Munich Re and ERGO invest in EIT Climate-KIC carbon removal programme

Major German corporate group sets the ambition to accelerate...

Munich Re and ERGO invest in EIT Climate-KIC carbon removal programme
In The News
23 pilot projects selected by EIT to unlock higher education’s innovation po...

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) has...

23 pilot projects selected by EIT to unlock higher education’s innovation potential in Europe
In The News
Investing in start-ups scales the offering of climate adaptation solutions in ...

A partnership between EIT Climate-KIC and CDC Group, the...

Investing in start-ups scales the offering of climate adaptation solutions in African and South Asian countries
In The News
Irish Aid extends support for innovation and development from the ground up

The Government of Ireland’s development assistance programme, Irish Aid,...

Irish Aid extends support for innovation and development from the ground up
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC showcases climate innovation at R&I Days

EIT Climate-KIC participated in the European Commission’s Research and...

EIT Climate-KIC showcases climate innovation at R&I Days
In The News
Branch Magazine wins Ars Electronica Award for Digital Humanity

Branch Magazine, a collaboration between EIT Climate-KIC, Mozilla Foundation...

Branch Magazine wins Ars Electronica Award for Digital Humanity
In The News
Cross-KIC project to boost circular economy in Western Balkans

The circular economy concept is of crucial importance to...

Cross-KIC project to boost circular economy in Western Balkans
In The News
Exploring new horizons with Pioneers into Practice

Enrolment is now open for placement hosts and participants...

Exploring new horizons with Pioneers into Practice
In The News
Circular bioeconomy start-up receives €2 million from European Innovation Co...

EIT Climate-KIC supported Lixea (formerly Chrysalix Technologies) has received...

Circular bioeconomy start-up receives €2 million from European Innovation Council Fund
In The News
Embracing a new approach to climate change in Moldova

Moldova is one of Europe’s most modest contributors to...

Embracing a new approach to climate change in Moldova
In The News
Krakow: transforming the city towards climate neutrality

Poland’s former capital and one of its oldest cities,...

Krakow: transforming the city towards climate neutrality
In The News
Is Europe doing enough to tackle climate change?

On 23 April, EIT Climate-KIC CEO Kirsten Dunlop spoke...

Is Europe doing enough to tackle climate change?
In The News
EU Commission publishes sustainable finance taxonomy

The European Commission has published its EU-wide classification system for...

EU Commission publishes sustainable finance taxonomy
In The News
New European Bauhaus: what kind of future do you want to live in?

On 22 and 23 April, the first conference dedicated...

New European Bauhaus: what kind of future do you want to live in?
In The News
Estonian innovation to help stabilise grid as renewables increase

EIT Climate-KIC supported Estonian start-up Sympower has raised €5.2...

Estonian innovation to help stabilise grid as renewables increase
In The News
Five EIT Climate-KIC community members in Forbes 30 under 30 list

Twelve entrepreneurs from across the EIT community have been...

Five EIT Climate-KIC community members in Forbes 30 under 30 list
In The News
These eleven organisations are building a greener Europe

Google, in partnership with EIT Climate-KIC, launched the €10...

These eleven organisations are building a greener Europe
In The News
New equity crowdfunding programme unearths cleantech start-ups

Found by us, funded by you, a new start-up...

New equity crowdfunding programme unearths cleantech start-ups
In The News
From start-up to 100-person industry player in 18 months: air up is launching ...

It’s a beverage revolution: Healthy hydration while fooling your...

From start-up to 100-person industry player in 18 months: air up is launching in new markets
In The News
#TurnItAround: an event for all climate solutions seekers, suppliers and enabl...

As part of the fifth SDG Global festival of...

#TurnItAround: an event for all climate solutions seekers, suppliers and enablers
In The News
New EIT initiative to boost innovation in higher education

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) is...

New EIT initiative to boost innovation in higher education
In The News
Just transition within reach for Polish coal city Rybnik

“We are preparing plans for the next decade. Mentality is...

Just transition within reach for Polish coal city Rybnik
In The News
Inclusive guide helps communities build urban resilience

The new Urban Action Kit, launched by the International...

Inclusive guide helps communities build urban resilience
In The News
Climate app among DigiEduHack 2020 global finalists

The DigiEduHack, supported by EIT Climate-KIC as well as...

Climate app among DigiEduHack 2020 global finalists
In The News
GreeMko receives Climate Reality Project Award in Spain 

GreeMko (for Green Management Technology), a Spanish start-up that...

GreeMko receives Climate Reality Project Award in Spain 
In The News
What’s the future of trade in a climate crisis?

EIT Climate-KIC Chief Executive Officer Kirsten Dunlop addressed the...

What’s the future of trade in a climate crisis?
In The News
Wanted: Green business ideas to fix climate change

Starting today, the seventh edition of the global green...

Wanted: Green business ideas to fix climate change