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Explored: Social Innovation in Energy Transitions
SONNET Webinar Series

What activities “count” as social innovations in energy transitions? How do they work? What roles do public institutions play in such initiatives? How can small-scale energy projects compete with big players in the energy sector?

The SONNET webinar series explored these and many more questions. The series engaged researchers, local governments, sister projects, leaders of social innovation initiatives, and more.

Revisit all editions of our webinar series at the links below.

Past Seminars

24 February 2022
Online Seminar 8: Financing renewable energy in Europe: trends, challenges opportunities

Financing energy transition is a major challenge. If we want to achieve ambitious climate goals, we need to find new ways of funding (and new sources of financing for) renewable energy, and fast! In this webinar, experts from the Netherlands, Poland and the UK explored the main challenges and opportunities for financing renewable energy. The discussion was moderated by Olga Krajewska (ICLEI Europe), with speakers:

  • Bernard Swoczyna, Senior Energy & Climate Expert, Instrat (Poland)
  • Dr. Friedemann Polzin, Associate Professor, Utrecht University School of Economics & Sustainable Finance Lab (the Netherlands)
  • Richard Lowe, Investment Programme Manager, Bristol City Council (the UK).

27 January 2022
SONNET on Tour in Warsaw: Social innovation in energy in Central & Eastern Europe

On 27 January SONNET went on a virtual tour to Warsaw (Poland) to learn more about the role social innovation can play in transforming energy systems in Central and Eastern Europe.

We kicked off with an “Energy Talk”, during which our experts discussed the main challenges to energy transition in Central and Eastern Europe, and how SIEs can help address them. :

  • Sabine Hielscher (Sussex University, UK)
  • Mariya Trifonova (Sofia University, Bulgaria)
  • Arthur Hirsch (ICLEI Europe, Germany)
  • Agata Stasik (Kozminski University, Poland)

We then listened to the keynote speech by Jacek Kisiel, Deputy Director, Office of Air Protection & Climate Policy at the City of Warsaw, who presented insights on how cities can support SIEs, drawing on Warsaw’s lessons learnt.

The webinar ended with a deep-dive into two SIE initiatives in Central and Eastern Europe: oPEN Lab in Tartu (Estonia), and ZKlaster in Zgorzelec (Poland) presented by our speakers Merit Tatar (Institute of Baltic Studies) and Agnieszka Spirydowicz (ZKlaster).

The discussion was moderated by Olga Krajewska (ICLEI Europe).

7 December 2021
Online Seminar 7: Changing the energy system: taking stock and preparing for 2022

Revisit this online conversation with activists, which took stock of what movements against fossil fuel pathways have accomplished this year, reflected on the recent COP26, and set ourselves up for systems change in the new year. The discussion was led by:

  • Barbara Richardson (UK), founder of the Roseacre Awareness Group, which joined forces with other groups to become Frack Free Lancashire.
  • Lorraine Inglis (UK), community campaigner fighting unconventional oil and gas extraction, co-founder of Weald Action Group.
  • Hiske Arts (NL), campaign coordinator at Fossil Free Netherlands.
  • Dominika Lasota (PL), climate activist, coordinator of Fridays for Future International.

The discussion was moderated by Adrienne Kotler (ICLEI Europe).

11 November 2021
Online Seminar 6: Unlocking the transformative power of social innovations in energy

This webinar served to launch the SONNET Power Guide, introducing participants to the tools needed to unlock the power of social innovations to transform energy systems. Discussions of power were led by speakers Flor Avelino (DRIFT), Gert Vandermosten (Leuven2030) and Chris Vrettos (Hyperion), who put power at the centre of the discussion and explored how energy transitions are shaped by, and shape, power dynamics at all levels.

The “Power Guide” is a guidance document with specific, research-based exercises to help put power at the centre of social innovations in order to unlock their full, transformative potentials.

12 May 2021
Online Seminar 5: Bringing energy sufficiency from local projects to a global driver

In this webinar, the SONNET project explored the concept of ‘energy sufficiency’, putting a spotlight on Grenoble. We explored what energy sufficiency (also known as energy sobriety) means, and discussed how we can move this concept from one that is largely applied in local City Labs, to be a real driver of policy.

Speakers included:

  • Vincent Fristot, Deputy Mayor, Energy Transition & Municipal Buildings, City of Grenoble
  • Fabien Dupré, Head of SONNET City Lab in Grenoble
  • Arthur Hinsch, representing the POWERPOOR project

The webinar was moderated by Adrienne Kotler, ICLEI Europe.

20 January 2021
Online Seminar 4: Encouraging social innovation in energy transitions via collaborative governance: a fishbowl discussion

For its fourth webinar, the SONNET project switched things up. Instead of a traditional event, the project invited all to join a ‘fishbowl discussion’ to explore ‘collaborative governance arrangements’: what that means, and how cities can use collaborative governance to support social innovations in energy.

Speakers included:

  • Marta Strumińska-Kutra, Kozminski University
  • Fabien Dupré, Grenoble (France)
  • Marcin Grądzki, Warsaw (Poland)
  • Matt Jones, Bristol (UK)
  • Nicole Schwarz, Basel (Switzerland)
  • Sabrina Hoffman, Mannheim (Germany)
  • Jakob Kramer, UrbanA project

The webinar was moderated by Adrienne Kotler, ICLEI Europe.

This discussion built on a recent SONNET publication on the same topic. Read it here.

15 September 2020
Online Seminar 3: Fighting for Local Power: how a UK Bill seeks to support local energy producers

The SONNET project organised its third online seminar, this time on campaigning for local renewable energy, exploring the example of the “Local Electricity Bill” in the UK.

Community-scale renewable energy has great potential to help decarbonise local economies, while benefiting local communities. Unfortunately, this potential is too often blocked by high supply costs and a lack of opportunities to sell generated energy directly to local people, which aims at enabling local energy producers to directly sell their energy and thus create a market for decentralised renewable energy systems. The discussion included also a Swiss perspective, as Switzerland is far ahead when it comes to supporting local renewable energy.


The seminar was facilitated by Olga Krajewska, Governance and Social Innovation Junior Officer, ICLEI Europe.

8 June 2020
Online Seminar 2: Social Innovation and the Energiewende – Lessons and Outlooks from Germany

The SONNET project organised its second online seminar, this time exploring the role of social innovation in the energy transition through the example of the German Energiewende.

Meaningful energy transition requires technical effort, as well as social and institutional change. Where does Germany currently stand with its energy transition? How are social innovations part of this transformation process? During this seminar we discussed what stakeholders from across Europe can learn by reflecting on Germany’s experience with its Energiewende.


The seminar was facilitated by Niklas Mischkowski, Governance and Social Innovation Officer, ICLEI Europe.

31 March 2020
Online Seminar 1: (Almost) Everything you need to know about the “What, Who and How”

The SONNET project kicked-off its first online seminar by exploring (Almost) Everything you need to know about the “What, Who and How”

This seminar opened a discussion on Social Innovation in Energy (SIE) in Europe today, and explored the diversity of SIE already being deployed. Speakers shared their practical experiences from both research and a local government perspectives.


The seminar was facilitated by Niklas Mischkowski, Governance and Social Innovation Officer, ICLEI Europe.

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