RegenerAction 2002: Energy for a circular and sustainable society

The energy challenge: A steady energy transition

The whole world has now opened its eyes to the damage that the use of nonrenewable resources (such as oil and coal) has caused and is causing. However, the transition to sustainable and renewable energy production cannot happen overnight. Abandoning old energy systems from one day to the next would have serious consequences on the economy and efficiency of all industries.

What we need is not a sudden jump, but a steady energy transition toward more sustainable systems. The transition to renewable forms of energy should be a long-term process, more than an isolated event. A step that must be accomplished as quickly as possible, but which also keeps in mind all the components involved and the impact on the environment and society.

Why does energy really matter?

Changing our energy supply systems and our mindset is crucial for the future of our planet and our communities. A steady but rapid transition to sustainable forms of energy could help reduce our impact on the Earth and create more resilient ecosystems and sustainable cities for future generations. Using renewable forms of energy is the first step on the path towards the needed decarbonization aimed at massively reducing the number of anthropogenic emissions and embracing adaptive and mitigating strategies. In addition, it would allow, especially in Europe, a reduction in dependence on foreign energy providers by contributing to local and sustainable production. Finally, an energy transition would also help address energy poverty problems that affect some European and global regions. This is particularly evident within the agrifood system and value chain which generally consume almost one-third of the global available energy.

The EU energy strategy

The European Union has set important goals to achieve a true European Green Deal, all of which require an efficient transition to sustainable forms of energy. These long-term goals aim to make the European Union reach climate neutrality by 2050. To do so, the European Commission is working to:

FitFor55 is the package of measures the Union has adopted to achieve these goals. Specifically, these measures serve to review member states’ legislation to favor the sale and use of renewable and sustainable forms of energy. In addition, the plan aims to increase the efficiency of energy used, paying special attention to those sectors that, from the reports, are lagging behind the targets. FitFor55 owes its name to the goal of wanting to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55 percent before 2030 through a process of decarbonization that simultaneously contributes to achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement of halting the global temperature rise.

As of today, when we talk about renewable energy, we no longer refer only to solar or wind power, but also to new forms of energy production that are the result of the advancement of technology and the idea of intersectoral cooperation. Today we speak, for example, of agrovoltaics – where agricultural systems and photovoltaic plants merge to create a symbiotic system – or of biomass and bioenergy which, according to EU data, are the most used source of renewable energy (60 percent) but still largely less widespread than the use of oil or coal. The use of these new renewable forms of energy can be a great tool for achieving European goals if used efficiently and widely, also merging with the Italian and European food and supply chains strategies.

Finally, the European Union, in the wake of the events that are wreaking havoc on the Ukrainian territory, decided to press the accelerator by launching the REPowerEU plan last March, which aims to accelerate the process of independence from Russian gas through the search for new sustainable and renewable forms of energy well before 2030. Specifically, the two core goals of the plan are:

  • the diversification of gas importers through different pipelines and routes and the import and production of more biomethane and renewable hydrogen.
  • the reduction of fossil fuel use by increasing energy efficiency and the use of renewable forms of energy.

REPowerEU shows the ability of energy to cross borders and shape the dynamics of international politics. The energetic Union stance toward Russian actions is just one example of how changing our mindset and practices toward more sustainable ones can not only be used to improve our ecosystems but also as a diplomatic tool. Coherent and cohesive strategies for a greener Europe are setting the new path of the EU Commission’s policies.

Energy to feed the community

The Future Food Institute strongly welcomes the ideas and proposals of the Union by proposing concrete solutions that will contribute to the energy transition of our country and the whole of Europe.

Once again, Pollica and the Paideia Campus represent the laboratory of our activities. Together with Mayor Stefano Pisani, a Renewable Energy Community has been developed in Pollica. Bringing together the private and public sectors in the energy transition process and providing stimuli for the creation of new forms of aggregation and governance in the field of electricity, sustainable transport, and even sustainable tourism, the energetic transition plan will benefit not only individuals but also the community as a whole.

In addition, Future Food invests in research and experimentation, particularly in bioenergy production. Also in Cilento, specifically in Poseidonia, as part of the “Pollica 2050 – Mediterranean Living” project, we have contributed to the design and implementation of an experimental center for energy production from the organic fraction of urban garbage and algae. “Pollica 2050 – Mediterranean Living” proposes the Campania region as a global model of sustainable and circular living. For this reason, the Test Farmers initiatives supported by Future Food explore sustainable energy applications to agriculture and aquaculture.

Future Food believes that true energy transition is only achievable through the education of new generations. It is not only important to convey the significance of sustainable and circular living, but also to provide the tools and knowledge to put this regenerative lifestyle and mindset into practice. It is for this reason that high-school students have had the chance to meet the Minister of Ecological Transition, Roberto Cingolani, to ask questions and deep dive into the complexity behind the energy transition. Education and innovation are therefore two important pillars to creating energetic, resilient, sustainable, and empowered communities.

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