The European Commission has featured the Algarve’s Culatra 2030 project as an example of smart specialisation, with an article on its website explaining that it covers “multiple aspects of green transition.”
“It implements the ambitions of the Smart Specialisation Strategy (S3) in Algarve, using a novel Entrepreneurial Discovery Process (EDP) to create a real-life laboratory for green transition, focusing on the specific needs of the island and capitalising on its assets,” André Pacheco, Coordinator of Culatra 2030 at University of Algarve, explains in the article.
The Culatra project, coordinated by the University of Algarve, in partnership with the Ilha da Culatra Residents Association, the Algarve Regional Coordination and Development Commission (CCDR Algarve) and the Municipality of Faro, is a demonstration project. The island of Culatra is one of the six pilot islands that received support from the European Secretariat for clean energy in the islands to create an Energy Transition Agenda.
Culatra has a “comprehensive strategy, which comprises several aspects of the energy transition, including social issues such as energy poverty,” Pacheco adds. “Rather than the development of new technology per se, the key perspective is the holistic model and demonstration character of the initiative. The central ambition of the initiative is to transform all structures on the island to become energy self-sufficient.”
Pacheco adds that this participatory model is “proving to be effective in improving decision-making, given the previous situation, which was characterised by several dispersed and uncoordinated initiatives”.
He also points out that “this is a truly bottom-up initiative, inspired by the approach of smart specialisation, and that can be replicated in other communities”.
The initiative aims to “position the Algarve as a whole as a centre of excellence in renewable energy research and training, exploiting its distinctive resources in the decarbonisation of its economy.”
The new model will show how energy communities can play a relevant role in the generation of electricity in a decentralised way. “Energy poverty on the island should become a thing of the past,” Pacheco said.