RIPEET – Responsible Research and Innovation Policy Experimentations for Energy Transition

Project Information

RIPEET (Responsible research and innovation Policy Experimentations for Energy Transition) was a three-year long project which aimed to improve cross-sector collaboration for energy development in the Outer Hebrides. Working closely alongside Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), and 10 other partner’s based across Europe, we established a “Transition Lab” for the Outer Hebrides: a group of local stakeholders from the local academic, public, commercial, community and environmental sectors. We then supported this group through a series of workshops developed by RIPEET partners the Centre for Social Innovation in Austria. The workshop series facilitated discussions about energy development in the Outer Hebrides and highlighted shared priorities, challenges and ambitions held by local stakeholders.

Key steps in the process included:

Visioning and developing Change Targets

This involved asking the Transition Lab Members to imagine how the ideal Outer Hebrides energy system would operate in 2040. This was done using different prompts and exercises to energise the discussion. Following this initially brainstorming, CES and HIE staff compiled the Transition Lab member’s contributions into a vision document summarize the hopes and ambitions of local stakeholders. Three key themes emerged during the visioning:

  • Reducing fuel poverty (where households spend more than 10% of their household income on energy)
  • Improving the local electricity grid
  • Improved collaboration between energy stakeholders within academic, public, private, community and environmental sectors continues in 2040.

Alongside the Vision, the Transition Lab proposed various “Change Targets”, quantitative goals which aligned with the vision to be achieved by 2040. A list of 10 suggested change targets was voted on with the two most popular options being taken forward to the “Backcasting” exercise which were:

  • By 2040, no more than 5% of Outer Hebrides households are living in fuel poverty and 1% in extreme fuel poverty
  • Local energy costs are equal to those on the mainland

Backcasting

Backcasting is a planning methodology which involves using targets or goals from the future and working backwards to figure out what steps need to be taken to reach your future ambitions. During RIPEET we used the two most popular Change Targets as our starting points and discussed what would need to be done to achieve these outcomes. This process produced two Transition Pathway’s which included a number of steps such as structures that would need set up, research questions requiring answers, changes in legislation and funding requirements.

This included a variety of actions to be taken now to initiate the Transition Pathways. These actions were taken forward to the following workshop which aimed to define the most pressing current need which must be addressed to develop the energy system in the Outer Hebrides

Needs Definition

The final core workshop of the Transition Lab aimed to define the most pressing energy need for the Outer Hebrides. This built on the previous workshops and involved Transition Lab members voting on and discussing various energy needs. The Transition Lab in the Outer Hebrides collaboratively identified the following as the most urgent energy need in the region:

“Explore solutions to reduce household energy costs by better utilising locally generated energy”.

This was based on:
URGENCY: Over 40% of the Outer Hebrides is in fuel poverty, set to worsen given the current energy crisis.
EXPECTED IMPACT: Solution to this issue would benefit households and businesses across the region, learning could be shared with other regions.
LINKS WITH EXISTING POLICY: closely ties in with targets to reduce Fuel Poverty (The Fuel Poverty Act, 2019) and the National Plan for Scotland’s Islands (Scottish Government, 2019).

Pilot Project

The Transition Lab process culminated in a €50,000 Pilot Project which was based on the locally identified energy need. Various submissions came forward and a consortium bid from the local authority; Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, and local University, UHI North, West and Hebrides to deliver the Outer Hebrides Local Energy Economy (OHLEE) project which looked at enabling local energy supply and exploring householders interest in energy efficiency and renewable energy interventions. As part of the project two MSc Students from UHI NWH undertook research projects into domestic energy efficiency and renewable energy options, key results from this research can be seen below.

Full Reports on the OHLEE project can be seen using the links below:

Outer Hebrides Local Energy Economy Project Documents

Outer Hebrides Local Energy Economy MSc Research Results

The Recommendations of the OHLEE project included:

  • Establishment of an Energy Local Club to closely match energy supply and demand and where local communities work together to invest in clean energy
  • Exploring an existing research group for piloting energy storage solutions
  • Attracting further investment
  • More support needs to be given to householders to help them understand the most appropriate energy efficiency measures and domestic renewable energy technologies
  • Better understand grant availability and application processes

RIPEET was funded through the European Union’s “Horizon 2020” and ran from February 2021 to January 2024. For more information, project documents and guidance check out the RIPEET website.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under: Grant Agreement No. 101006295 – H2020-SwafS-2018-2020 / H2020-SwafS-2020-1

Although RIPEET wrapped up in January 2024 we are actively exploring ways to continue some of the good practice and methodology developed in the project though other areas of our work. We are looking at the potential to use co-creation for project development within the Islands Centre for Net Zero as well as facilitating stakeholder networking potentially through a continuation of the Transition Lab

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