The event was attended by 30 energy managers of local self-government units and representatives of local authorities from Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia and Croatia. During the three days interactive exchange and discussion, an initiative and organized network for encouraging local energy transition called SERENA (South European Renewable Energy Network) was launched.
Following the example of Germany as a leader in energy transition within the EU, the South European Renewable Energy Network SERENA wants to further support the already started energy transition in Croatia and the region, that has resulted from energy-conscious local communities and initiatives, such as Krk and Križevci in Croatia, Centar and Valandovo in North Macedonia, but also other good practice examples from the region. The members of the SERENA network tend to simplify procedures for photovoltaic installations in their countries, and to introduce an Environmental Protection Fund as the existing one in Croatia, that will encourage and co-finance investments of photovoltaic systems by citizens. As a network, of key importance to us is to actively encourage the establishment of energy communities of citizens as a missing link in the ongoing energy transition in our countries, and for that, it is essential to adapt the existing laws and bylaws.
Energy communities enable citizens to produce and sell surplus electricity to other community members which will reduce electricity bills, but also strengthen community resilience. On the other hand, they enable national energy companies to produce domestic electricity from renewable sources and reduce fossil fuels’ dependence.
SERENA's conclusion is that all actors should profit and participate in the energy transition as active entities. It is obvious that the citizens want to be part of it, and now it is up to the legislator to enable energy communities and citizens’ energy.
This network will continue to work in the spirit of democratization of the energy transition and strengthening of local communities through continuous exchanges and cooperation between municipalities, civil organizations and academic communities in the region.