International Clean Energy Challenge 2023: roaring for a greener future!

On 24-28 July 2023, the regional energy agency of Upper Austria, OÖ Energiesparverband, organised the 2023 International Clean Energy Challenge in Spital am Pyhrn. Learn more about this innovative and unique event.

International Clean Energy Challenge 2023: roaring for a greener future!

Spital am Pyhrn is a small town in the Austrian Alps surrounded by picturesque mountains and forests. At the centre of the village lies a monastery turned into a hotel. This scenic location was the place chosen by OÖ Energiesparverband (ESV) to host the 2023 International Clean Energy Challenge.

49 participants from +30 countries were selected to join the event. They are all aged between 23 and 35. They are young researchers, engineers, political scientists, lobbyists, start up founders… all working towards the same goal: climate neutrality.

They were divided in 8 teams led by experienced coaches: Barry O’Sullivan – Shannon Estuary taskforce / Technological University of the Shannon (IE); Catherine Premat – Head of Territorial projects and Green public procurement at AURA-EE (FR); Christiane Egger – Deputy Manager at ESV (AT); Filip Dumitriu – Project Manager at FEDARENE (BE/EU); Francisco Puente – Director at ESCAN Consulting (ES); Miljenko Sedlar – Assistant Managing Director at REGEA (HR); Seamus Hoyne – Chair of the Tipperary Energy Agency (IE); Vlasta Krmelj – Director of Energap and Mayor of Selnica ob Dravi (SI).

FEDARENE Challenge Team by OÖ Energiesparverband

For 5 days, participants were immersed into the world of local/regional energy agencies and the challenges they encounter: building a wide campaign to attract sustainable energy professionals to work in Upper Austria; designing and promoting a Clean Demonstration Building in Zagreb; developing Energy Communities in Ireland and Spain; connecting with SMEs across Europe; gaining wind power acceptance in Auvergne Rhône Alpes; developing biomethane in the South of Ireland.

Usually I go to conferences and I realise I don’t have to think too much; I am only at the receiving end. But here, I am actively contributing and I feel so empowered.

Lily Tanui, participant – FEDARENE Team

The multidisciplinary teams have worked hard to produce creative and effective strategies to solve these challenges. The event was organised in the framework of the REMARKABLE Climate Leaders project which supports local leaders in delivering carbon neutrality by 2050 in 7 regions across Europe. As a matter of fact, several teams chose to capitalize on local leaders to solve their challenges. Indeed, finding and empowering local leaders is essential to gain people’s trust and implement energy transition projects.

The teams were also able to benefit from external guidance from two mentors: Mélissa Miklos, FEDARENE’s Communication Manager, and Niels van Dijk, serial entrepreneur and start ups founder. It was a thrilling experience for our network – staff and members – to be able to join this adventure from different perspectives (coaches, mentor, participants).

After an intense week of networking, brainstorming and hard work, everyone felt gratitude for the time spent together, which allowed to create new ideas while connecting with like-minded individuals.

The Energy Transition is our biggest challenge for the years to come but also our greatest opportunity. This week, we have seen what this could look like when teams composed of different backgrounds come together to produce innovative ideas and solutions.

Christiane Egger, OÖ Energiesparverband – coach and organiser
OÖ Energiesparverband

The 2023 Clean Energy Challenge was the second edition organised by OÖ Energiesparverband. Read our summary report from the first edition and make sure to follow ESV’s activities to be informed of their future events: