Brussels, 18 Sep 2006
CONCERTOplus is an EU funded initiative set up to act as communication tool for a series of sustainable energy research projects. These projects, which come together under the initiative known as CONCERTO, aim to demonstrate the environmental, economic and social benefits of developing energy-saving technologies and renewable energy systems at community level across Europe. In total, 28 communities are participating in the nine projects. Brigitte Bach is the coordinator of the CONCERTOplus. She explained why such an umbrella initiative was necessary. 'CONCERTO projects are huge projects with huge budgets and teams. Often the people involved have never been involved in an EU project before. The main players here are not universities or research institutes: they are the energy companies and building developers that are used to working at a regional level only.'
Working beyond the regional horizon not only involves coming to terms with the complex rules of participating in EU projects, it also challenges consortia partners' ability to communicate effectively with one another. 'Due to CONCERTO's size, project consortia find it hard to find out what other consortia are doing: they would need to have a lot of initiative to identity by themselves other players in the CONCERTO family that are facing similar problems to them.'
This is where CONCERTOplus comes in. It provides a communication platform through which partners from different projects may come together to share best practices and experiences. 'The aim is to communicate in a very structured way with one another, and to document that communication,' says Ms Bach.
Based on feedback from project participants about their experiences, CONCERTOplus organises thematic workshops and online fora involving external experts. Support services also include a 24 hour helpdesk. 'Project participants can call at any time with an issue they may have and by the next day we will have the name and contact details of an expert who can help that project,' explains Ms Bach.
Over the next five years, CONCERTOplus will conduct analyses of the measures which are being developed by the projects and disseminate the results through its website, newsletter and meetings. 'By the end of CONCERTOplus, we hope to have formulated a set of clear policy recommendations on energy saving concepts.'