The Future of Rural Energy in Europe (FREE) initiative was created by SHV Energy in 2010 and is supported by a wide variety of groups which are committed to improving the lot and realizing the potential of rural communities through greater energy choice. This pan-European platform is aimed at promoting the use of sustainable energy within rural communities through research, energy advice and promotion of lower carbon energy options available to consumers living beyond the natural gas grid.
Over 50% of European citizens live in rural areas. They occupy over 90% of Europe’s territory and contribute 43% of Europe’s gross value. And yet, despite their importance, rural communities are rarely considered by politicians and regulators when writing energy policy.
People living in the more remote parts of Europe rarely have access to the natural gas grid and the electricity supply can be unreliable and hugely inefficient. As a consequence they often have to rely on relatively high carbon solid and liquid fuels which are being used with aging technologies.
The FREE initiative gives a voice to all those who believe that rural energy needs are important issues both for those who live in the countryside and for European society as a whole. We want to make sure that policy makers acknowledge that the following is true and plan accordingly:
Rural communities in Europe are important.
Rural communities are disadvantaged when it comes to energy choice and energy policy.
Engaging and supporting rural communities is essential if government energy and climate change policies are to be realized.