Tag: Sestao

Follower Cities Publish Report on Community Participation and Playground Results

The +CityxChange Follower Cities (FCs), Alba Iulia, Písek, Smolyan, Sestao, and Võru, recently published the Report on community participation and playground results, in collaboration with partners from Space Engagers, Colaborativa and Officinae Verdi.

One of the core objectives of the +CityxChange project is to activate local stakeholder knowledge and resources towards the creation of Distributed Positive Energy Blocks (DPEBs). In this report, the FCs outline how they have adapted and applied principles of CommunityxChange throughout the project, based on the experiences and lessons learned from Lighthouse Cities, Limerick and Trondheim, and their own background.

Key lessons and recommendations from the municipalities’ experiences in community participation and engagement initiatives are as follows:

  1. Informative sessions: Organizing informative sessions on various topics, such as community, city, sustainability measures, renewable energy, and localizing SDGs, is crucial for citizen education and awareness.
  2. Continuous communication & transparency: Maintaining open and continuous communication with citizens, along with transparency in decision-making processes, helps build credibility and trust. Sharing open data further enhances transparency and enables others to replicate successful initiatives.
  3. Face-to-face activities: Proactive engagement through face-to-face activities, narrative tours, and gamification demonstrates a genuine interest by the municipality in connecting with citizens and fostering meaningful interactions.
  4. Stakeholder diversity: Involving a diverse range of stakeholders, such as private companies, universities, residents, youth organisations and community groups, is essential for facilitating effective and sustainable change within the community.
  5. Feedback & improvement: Collecting feedback from citizens after each community collaboration and co-creation event is important to continuously improve the quality and impact of such activities.
  6. Centralizing open calendars: Consideration should be given to utilizing an online tool for sharing calendars, future community participation initiatives, and engagement plans. This can help streamline communication and ensure accessibility to information for all stakeholders.
  7. Local heritage & culture: Recognizing and valuing the cultural heritage and traditions of a community can foster a sense of pride and ownership among residents, making them more likely to support and actively participate in sustainability efforts. By integrating local heritage and culture, municipalities can leverage traditional knowledge, practices, and architectural styles that align with sustainable principles. This approach not only preserves the unique identity of the community but also showcases the compatibility between cultural heritage and climate action.

By implementing these lessons and recommendations, municipalities can enhance their community engagement strategies, foster citizen participation, and drive positive change within their communities.

Check out the full deliverable to learn about what each city has been doing in further detail and as always, pay a visit to our Knowledge Base for complete access to project results.

An Inspiring Learning Session in Sestao

Last week +CityxChange kicked off the first of four Learning Sessions that will occur over the following months in preparation for our final event in Trondheim. As the project comes to a close, the Learning Sessions are an opportunity to understand the key takeaways from the project, including challenges and opportunities for growth. By visiting the different Follower Cities, we not only gain a better understanding of how the project has been implemented in each location but are also able to extract tangible insights related to climate-neutrality and project implementation that are of value beyond the scope of our project.

Held in +CxC Follower City, Sestao, Spain on March 27th and 28th, both technical and city partners came together to share insights and experiences from the last five years. It was a jam-packed two days, beginning with a visit from Sestao’s Mayor, followed by a presentation from Andy Bäcker of Sestao Berri, during which he discussed Sestao’s experiences with developing Energy Communities. He was accompanied by a representative from GoiEner, a local cooperative project for the generation and consumption of renewable energy and energy sovereignty. During the ensuing discussions, we talked about how energy communities vary in the cities, due largely to regulatory and financial differences. Important questions were raised about how to embed solutions within different contexts, rather than directly implementing ‘off-the-shelf’ solutions. Other issues were raised about who has the responsibility of ensuring that heritage is protected, how to engage different communities (especially those experiencing energy poverty), and how to deal with the costs and benefits related to energy sharing.

These discussions were followed by a Storytelling Workshop, led by ISOCARP Institute. During the workshop we talked about narrative construction and how to use stories to drive change, especially when dealing with complex topics. We learned about cognitive versus affective storytelling, discussing how to frame problems and solutions for different stakeholder groups.

That afternoon we went on a walking tour of different sites including Sestao’s biomass operated district heating office, the Escuela de Aprendices, and the blast furnace, Alto Horno. To get a better feel for the city, and how it connects to neighbouring Bilbao, we concluded the day with a boat tour along the River Nervión.

On the second day, ANEO (formerly Trønderenergi), presented their work in Trondheim implementing market solutions for local energy and flexibility markets. One of the major challenges they have encountered is that grid companies often operate as monopolies and therefore have little motivation to enable flexibility trading without regulatory incentives. 

Over the course of the two-day Session we also met with representatives from local industries, including ArcelorMittal Sestao, a steel plant and member company of the Basque Hydrogen Corridor, which has endeavoured to become climate-neutral by 2025, and Vicinay Sestao, a manufacturer of offshore mooring chains that is pivoting away from supplying the oil and gas industry to supplying offshore wind farms.

Overall, it was a great opportunity for us to come together and learn about our shared challenges and successes! Not to mention, an excellent chance to experience the Basque cuisine and culture.

Many thanks to Andy Bäcker, Kelly Riedesel, Annemie Wyckmans, and many others for organising a great Learning Session.  

The remaining Learning Sessions will be held in Alba Iulia, Smolyan and Võru over the next few months. Our findings from these events, along with learnings gathered throughout the project, will culminate in a PEB ‘cookbook’ and the Final Event, to be held in Trondheim, 3-5 October 2023. Hope to see you there!

+CxC in the Escuela de Aprendices.

Successful Matchmaking Story from The city of Sestao



We are very excited to announce that the city of Sestao has signed a contract with the European Energy Efficiency Fund (EEEF), officially joining the the EEEF´s Technical Assistance (TA) program. The contact between the two was a result of the Smart Cities Marketplace Matchmaking activities.

“It was exciting when we, the Smart Cities Marketplace matchmaking team, had our first conversations with Sestao. We noticed that the city has huge ambitions when it comes to implementing clean energy solutions, and we were confident that we could connect Sestao with the right investor”, Jorge Rodrigues de Almeida from the Smart Cities Marketplace team stated.

Sestao Berri is a public entity comprised of 50% Basque Government and 50% City of Sestao and is focused on urban regeneration, especially related to housing projects, promoting social, environmental and economic advancement in the region. As part of its involvement within the H2020 +CityxChange project, in which it is working towards developing Positive Energy Blocks in the city, it submitted a concept note during a Smart Cities Marketplace call for projects to participate in one of its events. The project was reviewed and sent to different investors from the Investor Network raising interest among several of them, and thus various meetings were scheduled, one being with EEEF. Since then, multiple projects within the city were considered, and different urban interventions ended up getting approved for entering the Technical Assistance programme, such as the creation of energy communities, buildings’ energy retrofit, modernization of street lighting, installation of electric vehicle charging stations and a digital sustainability platform, resulting in a higher total investment than the one presented in the initial concept note.

“We had a wealth of ideas in Sestao on how to reduce our emissions. The support and advice we received from the Smart Cities Marketplace matchmakers were essential in getting the European Energy Efficiency Fund on board”, Andy Bäcker explained.

In this sense, the European Energy Efficiency Fund (EEEF) is helping to finance the assessment of the technical, economic, and legal viability of these city improvements and help prepare the public tenders under an ESCO model that will be released in the Spring of 2023. It is, conservatively estimated, that this project will contribute to reducing 2.4% of Sestao´s CO2 emission (not accounting for the emissions from the industrial sector) and be the equivalent of having 647 citizens of Sestao living completely carbon neutral.

Delegation visit of Polish city of Zdunska Wola to Sestao

Eight representatives (and interpreter) from the Polish city of Zdunska Wola, including the mayor, came to visit Northern Spain. The purpose of the visit is to familiarize the representatives with the Smart City solutions and the project “60+ Smart City: innovations as a result of intergenerational cooperation”. The participants in this study are curious to know what innovative social solutions are used in Basque cities. They had a meeting with Bilbao in the morning, with SB during the afternoon, and the following day with Santander. The purpose of the visit is to exchange good practices and expand knowledge, in which +CityxChange was presented to them. 

+CityxChange Newsletter – April 2021

+CityxChange‘s sixth newsletter has been distributed in April 2021. Please, feel welcome to read the newsletter online here and distribute it to your network. This month’s newsletter contains the most important news and updates of the last four months from our project, focusing on how +CityxChange is entering its project implementation phase. A series of online events have been happening in our Lighthouse and Follower Cities, pushing in this way, for more co-creative solutions with their citizens. 

Further, we want to invite you to subscribe to the newsletters to not miss any project updates. 

+CityxChange Newsletter – December 2020

+CityxChange‘s fifth newsletter has been distributed in December 2020. Please, feel welcome to read the newsletter online here and distribute it to your network. This month’s newsletter contains the most important news and updates of the last three months from our project, focusing on how +CityxChange has adopted to a new digital format of events and interactions among project partners.   

Further, we want to invite you to subscribe to the newsletters to not miss any project updates. 

+CityxChange Second Consortium Meeting, 23-25 October 2019, Limerick

From the 23rd-25th of October, 2019, 70 representatives of the project partners, and additional local stakeholders of +CityxChange project were gathered in Limerick, as part of our second consortium meeting. Taking advantage of this face-to-face interaction, we dived into key challenges that had arise during the first year of the project implementation and and developed joint outcomes which help us to move from the development phase to the deployment phase for the second year of +CityxChange.  In total, we organised 8 in-depth workshops, each with a moderator, a problem owner, a clearly defined problem statement and an intended outcome. 

Four sessions of 2 parallel workshops each were kicked-off, covering different topics such as: 

  1. Glossary / Pictionary workshop: The aim of this workshop was to develop a common understanding and definitions of central project terms, discussing contested definitions, aligning different usage of terms across project and laying foundation for citizen-friendly definitions and visual descriptions. 
  2. Monitoring and Evaluation workshop: The development of a standardised framework for the M&E, development of a data collation, management and analysis methodology, development of an interactive web based dashboard, and providing an early-warning scoring system were the main issues to work upon
  3. Privacy and Smart City Data Model Structure:  The challenges discussed in this workshop, were related to IT architecture and data, open data portals, APIs, data protection impact assessment, informed consent, the Data Management Plan, and open research data.
  4. Exploring and sharing ways towards citizen-led energy transitions (Storytelling Workshop): The workshop aimed at exploring ways of creating a better understanding of the experiences, challenges, failures and successes of similar projects in engaging citizens as well as fostering interactive and progressive exchanges between external participants and the +CityxChange team.
  5. Common Energy Market: During the workshop, the participants reviewed status and learning points from the first year, what to expect in year 2, and how to improve learning between Lighthouse and Follower Cities. In addition, important new knowledge was discussed of how to organize a local energy market so it stimulates the PEB process, principles for the flexibility markets and community grid, as well as replication and investment / financial models and joint funding opportunities.
  6. CommunityxChange: The workshop included, amongst others, an overview of learnings from the first year, how to transition from the development to the deployment phase, as well as first experiences with monitoring and evaluation, and opportunities for investment, scaling and replication.  
  7. City Modelling: Current modeling on building level is not sufficient, and needs to be able to easier and faster work on community/neighborhood level for better scale-up into a neighborhood. This is needed to be addressed to any community for its operational performance. 
  8. Transport / Mobility: The workshop worked on different approaches to transport and mobility in Europe, depending on size, geographies, etc. The project is trying to define the basic topics firsts and then have breakout discussions.

In addition to the parallel workshops, we held the 2nd General Assembly, and organised PEB Walks of the Limerick demo areas and demo sites. On the final day, we organised an excursion to the ESB Ardnacrusha Hydroelectric Power Station, as well as the Cliffs of Moher.

For more information on our workshops check our report on Intra-Project Collaboration Including Study Visits and Peer-to-Peer Workshops

Exploring and sharing ways towards citizen-led energy transitions

During our second +CityxChange Consortium Meeting in Limerick, we organised a storytelling workshop with the objective to exchange knowledge and best practices internally and externally on how to involve citizens effectively. The workshop was facilitated by Limerick County and City Council and ISOCARP Institute and took place in the Fab Lab Limerick – a collaborative space to engage, produce, and co-create.

The workshop was attended by 31 project representatives, three international speakers (online) as well as local residents from the demonstration areas of Limerick. The workshop aimed at exploring ways of creating a better understanding of the experiences, challenges, failures and successes of similar projects in engaging citizens as well as fostering interactive and progressive exchanges between external participants and the +CityxChange team. As overarching problem statements, three key questions were formulated:

  1. What techniques/tools/approaches are effective to inform citizens about energy-related concepts, projects, and necessary technical/financial details?
  2. How can effective collaboration between a representative group of the society and projects/cities be achieved? Which methods work; which do not? How to reach out to those who are usually not involved?
  3. How do behavioural changes evolve? What does it take to reach a community-driven process in which citizens take the leading role and become proactive prosumers?

With this starting point, the first part of the workshop was dedicated to learning from other projects and individuals working on similar challenges. Muriël Pels, advisor for international cooperation and EU funding affairs (H2020) at Municipality Utrecht and project partner of +CityxChange’s sister project IRIS presented the approach, challenges and successes in generating support from the residents in IRIS’ demonstration area in Utrecht. Ariane Lelieveld, one of the initiators of Blijstroom in Rotterdam, presented the motivation, and ups and downs of the solely community-run project in Rotterdam. Lastly, John W. Lee, the community representative of Tallaght, a community outside of Dublin, shared his story how to collectively transform their community into a more sustainable and energy-neutral one.

Afterwards, the three external speakers discussed the three above-mentioned questions with smaller groups, accompanied by a collaborative brainstorming on best practices, learned lessons, and promising approaches. A compilation of the results and a detailed overview will be published on our project website soon. If you have questions or comments, please contact us.

Tartu and Trondheim to share experiences as two Lighthouse Cities

Representatives from the City of Tartu visited Trondheim from 4th to 5th September. The first day was sharing experiences of the cities, while the second day focused on the experiences as being European Lighthouse Cities, together with the +CityxChange coordinator at NTNU. This part shared experiences from the two Smart City EU projects SmartenCity, Tartu, and +CityxChange, Trondheim and NTNU. Approaches of both projects were discussed and linked to larger city challenges.

Also the SFI ZEN was present and presented their work with zero emission neighborhoods in Norway.
We look forward to keeping contact and to continue to share from our ongoing work for better sustainable cities.



+CityxChange in the 55th ISOCARP World Planning Congress in Jakarta/Bogor, Indonesia

+CityxChange was present in the 55th World Planning Congress in Jakarta/Bogor, Indonesia which was held by one of our partner organisations, ISOCARP. 

The main topic of the World Planning Congress was ‘Beyond the Metropolis’. In five intensive days, from the 9th-13th of September 2019, topics related to a rapid urbanisation as a result of a globalising economy in metropolitan areas have been treated. Divided in seven different tracks, where ‘Smart futures and sustainability’ was one of them, issues related to urban planning and development strategies to promote liveability, well-being, sustainability, innovation and responsive governance for their dwellers, were tackled. 

+CityxChange attracted the attention of many academics and professionals working in the field, while being represented in the ISOCARP booth with its own stand alone banner. In addition to this, an introduction to +CityxChange was given by the project manager of our partner organisation, Tjark Gall, during the plennary session of ISOCARP Institute.