The European Policies Research Centre (EPRC) is one of the partners in the TRACER project (2019-2021), which is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme for research and innovation. The project supports nine coal-intensive regions in their design of research and innovation strategies that lead to a transition to sustainable energy. TRACER is coordinated by WIP Renewable Energies in Munich and the Progress Meeting was organised by Welsh Government’s Renewable Energy Department. Wales is considered a best practice region: after a long history in coal-mining, it has largely transitioned to other sectors. In 2020, new legislation will aim at the reduction of emissions by 95%, potentially to net zero, by 2050.
The stakeholder engagement process, one of the responsibilities of EPRC, was one of the main topics on the first day of the Progress Meeting. EPRC will assist the nine partner regions to develop a shared vision among regional stakeholders from the energy sector, decentral governments, knowledge institutions, businesses and civic organisations. It was positive to see that some regions already started this challenging task, which is planned for the first half of 2020 onwards. On the second day, the partners were joined by stakeholders from Wales during a Study Tour. This excursion showed a number of exciting research projects in decarbonisation of the energy sector, among which the FLEXIS project at Swansea University. Supported by £15 mln of EU funds, it brings together the brightest minds to build to meet the energy demand of the future.
The tour led the TRACER consortium to Cardiff and Swansea universities and to Ebbw Vale, in which a large-scale transformation of an industrial area was showcased by the local government. In 12 years, Ebbw Vale’s steelworks site was completely re-developed with a new hospital, college campus, school and leisure centre.
TRACER focuses on nine European regions. Seven are located in EU Member States: South East Bulgaria, North West Bohemia (CZ), Lusatian Lignite District (DE), West Macedonia (GR), Upper Silesia (PL), Jiu Valley (RO) and South Wales (UK). The other two regions are Kolubara (Serbia) and Donetsk (Ukraine).