Smart and green energy is a number one challenge in the European Union, one of the dominant issues in Horizon 2020 and politically confirmed in the EU 20-20-20 goals. A paradigm shift is needed, which is confirmed by several energy scenarios (EU Roadmap, 2050, Shell, 2006, IEA 2012a, IEA, 2012b). According to the International Energy Agency’s Energy Technology Perspective, energy policy needs to take the entire energy system into focus, since energy technologies interact (IEA 2012). The need for a system perspective is also stressed in the academic literature on transitional change and transition management. In the Netherlands the transition management approach has been practiced intensively between 2000 and 2008 (Rotmans, 2011). Other countries like the UK and Finland are adopting the transitional change perspective in energy and beyond.
The required change will be substantial and system wide. Regions in Europe are gaining significance as strategic and operational actors in addressing the sustainable energy challenge in Europe. Increasing awareness of their importance and significance have strengthened their roles all over Europe, leading to increased independence, identity, and influence in the multi-level governance system of the EU. Energy transition, the transformation towards a smart and green energy supply is now a core focal point and domain for action in regional governance and renewable resources in particular bio-resources, are considered a true regional asset, to be utilised for the benefit of regional socio-economic development.
It is in the smaller regional context where new resources, technologies, organisations, and business models are developed and implemented, providing innovative technologies and energy services. The integration of intermittent renewable resources, like wind en PV, show that this transition from below is challenging the central station electricity system in design, technology, organisation and functional efficiency. These developments require new and innovative socio-technical solutions in energy supply. Therefore this conference will focus on the transitional changes needed to make cities and regions greener and smarter.