Despite the ongoing Russian war against Ukraine and power outages, 15 Ukrainian architects, engineers, and university professors of STEM subjects went for a professional visit on RES to Germany from November 28th to December 2nd, 2022. The visit was organized by wechange eG in cooperation with the NGO Sustainable development agency Synergy from Vinnytsia, Ukraine. It was conducted as a part of the project “Civil Society Energy 2022”, supported by the German Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
The visit aimed to learn about the development of the RES, some of the best cases of energy efficiency in the building sector, and the establishment and functioning of renewable energy communities in Germany.
On the first day, the group visited the IKzB - the Information and Competence Centre for Sustainable Building in Berlin. The participants learned about the development of energy-efficient construction in Germany, the Efficiency House Plus Network, and the pilot project of the Federal Ministry of Traffic, Construction, and City Development - “Efficiency House Plus with electromobility” in Berlin. The initiative of sustainable housing “Efficiency House Plus” has been operating since 2011 and has so far built or refurbished over 40 residential buildings all over Germany. The in-house research centre further develops energy-efficient technologies in the building sector and tests them on pilot projects.
Also, the experts have held political discussions on the challenges in the Ukrainian energy sector and on bilateral German-Ukrainian energy cooperation. The group visited the energy efficiency cluster of the giz - the German agency for international cooperation, as well as the Federal Association of Renewable Energy and its project "Women energize women". The representatives of the institutions stressed the high potential for the development of RES in Ukraine and reported on their support initiatives for the war-torn country.
In the federal state of North Rhine Westphalia, the group had an intensive 3-day program dedicated to the community energy in this region. First, a deep-diving introduction "Citizen Energy in Germany and NRW" was held by the representative of the federal agency NRWEnergy4Climate. This agency accompanies the decarbonization efforts of the federal state in the energy, industry, construction, and mobility sector. In that process, the energy communities are perceived as important players in sustainable climate action.
The next part of the visit was conducted on the ground in the city of Cologne and its surroundings. The energy communities BürgerEnergie Rhein-Sieg eG, RothaarWind Planungs- und Geschäftsführungs GmbH, Energiegewinner eG and Maxwäll eG welcomed the group from Ukraine at their facilities and demonstrated their equipment and successful business cases in action. Also the students' cooperative Öko-E and the passive housing cooperative "Wunschnachbarn WEG" shared their positive experience of collective action for decarbonization and a safer environment.
All these energy communities were built by the representatives of local communities for their respective regions, and even beyond. Interestingly enough, most of the founders of these projects have not been energy experts before their involvement in energy communities. Still, they were able to mobilize support from the municipal governments and neighbours and develop organizational and business models best suited for their endeavours.
To conclude, Ukrainian experts from the energy sector, architecture, and academia have got a comprehensive overview of different energy community models and established good networks with sustainability actors from Germany. These networks will lay the ground for the future projects of wechange eG, NGO Synergy, and their partners. And we hope that the exceptional potential of renewable energy communities in Ukraine will be realized very soon, helping to overcome the damages, caused by Russia's war.