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An apprisal of the significance of capacity building in Renewable Energy Education.

CHAPTER ONE- INTRODUCTION

1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

Supported by the statistical data, the share of renewable energy in gross final energy consumption in the EU member states (EU-28) reached 12.5% in 2014, representing around 70% of the EU 20% renewable target until 2020 [1]. The positive trends of using renewable resources were beside technological development supported by supply-side policies, where EU launched several policy initiatives to increase energy efficiency (EE) and usage of renew-able resources. However, fostering the employment of EE and renewable depends not only on the supply (producer) side and technology development but also on the end user (consumer) knowledge, competences, and personal preferences (habits, behaviour). Furthermore, energy related projects and investments are long-term processes that require several conditions to be satisfied, such as legislative or technical [2].  Energy sector is one of the most intensive investments across Europe [3] and has impacts on economic performances, technology base, society and overall development of the country  [4]. Thus,  education and  acquirement of competencies  became inevitable.  As claimed by Pantović et al. [5] the awareness raising of the EE measures is of utmost importance for the energy savings. To make stakeholders aware efforts of the educational institutions and the scientific community are needed. For example, Ouhajjou et al. [6] hasshowed the importance of providing stakeholders specific information from their points-of-view, regarding the impact of energy strategies on their interest, for better implementa-tion of EE and renewable resource measures. Negro et al. [7] identified systemic prob-lems towards the integration of renewables, claiming one of them to be knowledge infra-structure, where a wrong  focus was given to the educational process at  the university level, producing knowledge not applicable in the practice. Jennings [8] argues that the educational system has failed not fostering a basic education of energy supply options and their impact on society and environment. This has led to the problem of shortage of skilled professionals. Jennings [8] also further claims that formal education will not pro-vide the needs of renewable energy technology during the rapid growth of the technology innovations and development and it is necessary to provide trainings for professionals to enhance their knowledge as well as  other stakeholders dealing with  the energy issues, such  as  citizens,  students,  employees  at  municipalities,  decision-makers.  Jennings [8] argue that education has one of the most important roles in development of a sustainable society and it is a powerful agent of social change, while Kandpal and Bro-man [9] add that attitudes by the public have to be changed embracing the whole popula-tion as its target and that both formal and informal education should be extensively used. Similar have showed preliminary studies and mapping of the regional renewable energy resources  of  the  Croatians-Hungarian border  region in  the framework of  the CHREN cross-border project [10] claiming that the  main reason for not implementing resource efficient renewable energy solutions is a lack of knowledge among stakeholders to build up a local and operational renewable energy project. Van der Schoor and Scholtens [11] identified further factors to enhance energy related projects in local communities, such as creation of shared vision and concrete goals at the start of the project, financial, legal and organizational challenges, familiarization with technological options, relations with out-side networks  and governmental support.  Another important issue  identified by Kalk-brenner and Roosen [12] was a willingness to volunteer in energy community project and it is higher than the willingness to invest money. Their study showed that social norms, trust, environmental  concern  and  community identity were  important determinants for successful local energy projects. Several authors have published studies on technologies that improve EE and renewable energy sources [13-17]. Schneider et al. [18] claim that proper  planning  of  systems  with  high  penetration  of  intermittent  renewable  energy sources is the most important segment of future energy production development. This paper represents the outcomes and results of the training for renewable en-ergy network development (TREND) project, supporting the development of the renewa-ble energy potential in the cross border region of Croatia-Hungary-Slovenia. Firstly, an identification and  analysis of  knowledge,  skills  and competences needed  to prepare a successful project in the EE and renewable energy sector was carried out, comprehending twenty projects in four sectors (energy to biomass, renewable energy technology, refur-bishment  initiatives,  and  sustainable  building  initiative).  These  results  also identified weakness and strengths of the target groups involved (local small medium enterprises – SME, non-governmental organizations – NGO, municipal decision-makers, and students), which presented a framework for the development of the learning material, in order to fill the gap in knowledge, skills and competences. Four different modules were developed, including project  management (PM),  EE, renewable  energy and  biomass energy.  The trainings were carried out in Slovenia, Hungary, and Croatia, demonstrating benefits and improved capacities regarding EE and renewable resource

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