LIFE+ Coop 2020 Project Summary
Co-financed by the LIFE+ program this project aims to demonstrate the economic and environmental viability of a new business model for agricultural cooperatives, integrating energy savings and the generation of renewable energies and biomass production.
The flagship initiative of Europe 2020 strategy that Coop 2020 identifies with most is: “Towards a resource efficient Europe: decouple economic growth from the use of resources, by decarbonizing the economy, increasing the use of renewable sources, and promoting energy efficiency”. This is because the project focuses on 2 main approaches: the realisation of energy savings and the generation of energy from different renewable sources. These activities will form the backbone of a "rural smart-grid" and support real life evidence that decentralised, distributed power generation is economically feasible and desirable.
The team consists of six members, one from Greece and five from Spain. The combined expertise of the team is extremely diverse, and Coop 2020 wishes to demonstrate the viability of a new productive model using this expertise. Not only is it expected that the new productive model will generate a number of "green jobs", it can also provide a new future for rural development.
A number of steps and actions will be taken in order to prove the viability of the new business model. Testing will need to take place in order to: analyse the unused land for energy crop potential; see where/when electricity could be saved; study the needs for the co-generator and biomass boiler; and analyse the additional organic waste streams from pruning and olive milling. Implementation actions include optimising irrigation practices, substituting electricity powered water irrigation pumps with hybrid mini-windmills, growing energy crops on abandoned farmland, using biomass waste in special boilers and co-generators and the implementation of an Intelligent Energy Monitoring System. Thirdly, monitoring practices will take place to optimise the total system. Moreover, much attention will be devoted to communication and dissemination actions in order to engage stakeholders (but also citizens) as much as possible. Project monitoring and management will be carried out by all partners.
Coop 2020 will result in savings on the cooperative's electricity bill, on the participating farmers' electricity bill for irrigation, and a lower carbon footprint of the cooperative due to the combined actions of the project. It is expected to reach a big audience of professionals and even more website visitors.The project also adapts to the effects of climate change by restoring bare lands with low intensity bio energy crops with the additional benefit that their green cover will prevent more damage.
Coop 2020 desires to inspire the implementation and expansion of rural smart grids in other Spanish, Greek and European agricultural regions.
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