Tune in to our City Stories podcast

These City Stories podcast episodes are produced by Energy Cities, moderated by Miriam Eisermann and brought to you by mPOWER.

Episode 16 with Pau Balcells about the data culture in the City of Barcelona

In this episode Miriam sits down with Pau Balcells from the Barcelona Data Office. Together they dive into the role of data to design, feed and assess innovative and sustainable policies. The city of Barcelona is leveraging on data for better decision-making and to become a smarter and fairer place. During the talk Pau shares why big data have become the issue of our time. He also talks about the DataCity initiative that will contribute to the city’s amazing objective of erasing energy poverty in the next 8 years.

Episode 15 with Jakuta Imširović on the challenge of a just transition in a Balkan city

The city of Zenica, a coal and steel producer, lies right in the center of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Jakuta talks us through the different projects of the local government to increase efficiency, including Toplana Zenica plant. She proudly presents the city’s ambitions, but she also mentions the issues regarding the lack of knowledge around new energy practices at the local and national political level and the sometimes difficult role of the city.

Join us in the Western Balkans and let’s have a look into the culture shift underway in Zenica to transform the city into a more energy efficient, healthy and just place.

Episode 14  with Dr. Lucie Middlemiss about energy poverty in cities

We talk with Lucie Middlemiss about who the energy poor are in Leeds (and elsewhere), why they should be involved in finding the right answers, but also how she thinks research can help improve energy poverty policies in cities in the UK and Europe. Lucie is Professor of Environment and Society at the School of Earth and Environment at the University of Leeds. Lucie has an impressive track record of research on energy poverty with that particular focus on what is called the “lived experience” approach.

Episode 13 about Dublin’s big transition with Donna Gartland from CODEMA

Dublin counts half a million residents. Its energy agency CODEMA is in the early stages of redesigning the city’s energy landscape by involving the local community. The challenge is huge: How do you decarbonise a capital city that is very much driven by the fast-growing digital economy? Today I talk with Donna Gartland who is heading the Dublin energy agency with a staff of 16 people. She will explain what changes can be expected in the city and describes how she and her team trigger conversations with citizens around very abstract topics such as district heating using waste heat from data centres.

Episode 12 with Britt and Laura from Carbon Coop about new narratives

The energy and climate challenge is so big that it requires everybody to be involved. New ways of communicating are needed. What are the best means to shape new narratives and, in the end, to make people want to engage in changing the energy system? In this episode we talked with Laura Williams and Britt Jurgensen from CarbonCoop: one is a trained theatre practitioner, the other a political activist. Can we empower people more easily by merging art and activism?

Episode 11 with with Sara Capuzzo and Claudia Carani from Modena about local energy communities

We have interviewed two amazing women and we have talked with them about the right political triggers for renewables in Italy, about the place of women in the sector and I even learned during our conversation what ethical energy means.

Our interviewees were Sara and Claudia: Sara Capuzzo is the President of enostra, which is a major Italian renewables cooperative. And for a new energy community project she has recently teamed up with Claudia Carani who works as a senior expert in Modena for the Energy and Sustainable Development Agency. During the interview, Sara and Claudia described Modena’s renewables targets and explained to me how the next energy community will contribute to all this. Get a good Italian coffee and enjoy listening.

Sara and Claudia took part in the ECF Collaboration Lab on October 2020 together with delegates from Pamplona and Strasburg.
European Climate Foundation (ECF) is an international non-profit organization whose aims are to promote climate and energy policies that reduce Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions and help Europe play a stronger international leadership role in mitigating climate change.

Episode 10 with Juan and Javier from Pamplona about renewables and Covid

For almost 20 years, the region of Navarra in the North of Spain pioneers with wind and more and more with solar energy. Now, building an energy community with the regional capital Pamplona as a partner means getting to the next level. This energy community is part of the local government’s climate change strategy for 2030. I wanted to gain a very personal and honest insight into the creation process. And so I’ve invited Juan Eguidazu and Javier Zardoya. One is a cooperative member and the other is working in the city energy agency. 1 story, two perspectives.

Episode 9 with with Jacqui Cullen and Gerard Pol Gili about Strasburg’s first energy community

In this episode we want to understand how a very young energy community in Strasburg, in the North-East of France, came into being. Where did it all begin with this cooperative called the Brasseurs d’Energie (which means Energy Brewers)? What role did the city council play? And how challenging was the cooperation between citizens and the administration? Jacqui Cullen, an Irish-born cooperative member and Gerard Pol Gili, a Spaniard who heads the renewables department of Strasburg Metropolitan area will tell the story.

Episode 8 with with Dimos Ispikoudis from Komotini on locally-owned renewables

Since 2018, a new Greek legislation allows local authorities to be an energy producer. In this episode, we’ll have a look at how much this legislation was a gamechanger for Komotini, a local government in the very North-Eastern edge of Greece.

The city counts around 60.000 inhabitants and we were joined by one of them: Dimos Ispikoudis. Dimos works for the city of Komotini. He is the Special advisor to the Mayor, particularly on urban planning and EU co-funded public works projects. He is also Head of the programming and implementation Department. Komotini lies in Greece, but as Dimos told me, with its proximity to the Bulgarian border – which is only 30 km away – the city is very much Balkan-inspired.

In this interview, Dimos gives us a sense of his city’s ambitions to produce its own renewable energy and he also describes how they try to overcome challenges like lack of human and financial resources. Different options are envisaged in Komotini to make sure the local community is involved and benefits from the revenues.

Episode 7 with Amsterdam’s commons manager Nathalie de Loon

Today we take a look at the democratic potential of the urban commons. The commons are those resources we all share and use like water, energy, food or public space. I’ve talked to someone who deals with this in her everyday work: I’ve interviewed Nathalie de Loon who is the commons coordinator at the city council of Amsterdam.

Episode 6: Tine de Moor, researcher on collective actions

Sometimes it’s good to look into history when we want to better see the future. That’s why we’ve interviewed the Belgian academic historian Tine de Moor over the phone. Her teaching and research at the University of Utrecht in The Netherlands focus on how collective action developed over time. We talked about the trends she observes in cooperatives and about cooperation in times of crisis.

Episode 5: Geert Vanhorebeek from Leuven

Before Covid-19 turned our lives upside down, we met with Geert Vanhorebeek in the Belgium old university town of Leuven. Geert is the city’s sustainable development advisor. You’ll see, he knows how to bring people’s ideas and engagement into municipal action. There is much to learn from Leuven on how to build on strong local communities.

Episode 4: Lucija Topic and Zoran Kordic from Croatia

For this episode, we have met two very committed people from Croatia: Zoran and Lucia. Zoran Kordic works for ZEZ, green energy cooperative in Croatia. And Lucia Topic is spatial planner in the city of Krizevci which recently became a playground for crowdinvesting in renewables. They are both driven by the personal desire to spread the “energy community virus” with solar roofs across their country. Hear the story about this collaboration between the city and a cooperative, especially around crowdinvesting in solar energy. Hear how, together, they bring answers to climate emergency and bring people closer together through activities in public space.

Episode 3: Alba del Campo from Cadiz

For this episode, we have met Alba del Campo. Alba is a Spanish journalist and activist fighting for more energy democracy. She is advisor to the local authority of Cadiz since 2015. A new local government was elected in 2015 and re-elected in 2019. Since then, the city opened the energy politics to its citizens. This was a first radical change and there are more to come. Alba explains why and how they managed to introduce a new political culture and to make affordable and sustainable energy such a key topic. Did the fact that Cadiz also hosts Electrica de Cadiz, Spain’s biggest local energy company, have an impact?

Episode 2: Suvi Holm from Tampere

In this episode, we speak with Suvi Holm from the Finnish city of Tampere. Suvi is CEO of the non-profit environmental company Ekofellows (Ekokumppanit Oy). Ekofellows is owned by the municipality and advises citizens and companies on energy efficient measures and renewable energy.

Episode 1: Sofie Verhoeven from Ghent

Last December we have met Sofie Verhoeven in her office in the city hall of Ghent. Sofie is in charge of citizen participation in this beautiful and vibrant city in the Flemish part of Belgium. Ghent counts over 500 local initiatives, including one of the most pioneering renewable community neighbourhood. We wanted to know from Sofie how they manage to have such an active local community. In our conversation, Sofie talks about the city’s DNA, how she networks with citizens, how she nudges them and why even conflicts cannot stop her from being thrilled in her job.