For the second year running, Ignitis Renewables, an international green energy company, invites communities of the country living near solar and wind farms to apply for financial support. This year, the value of the support fund in Lithuania is EUR 300,000, which will be allocated to projects developed by communities living close to the company’s facilities. Ignitis Renewables will support sustainable and environmentally friendly initiatives and projects proposed by these communities that can make a significant difference and improve life in the area.

“Close ties with communities where we work together to create a more sustainable world are one of the key principles of our sustainable and responsible operations. That’s why we work closely with local people and businesses to develop both a greener environment and value for the country’s regions. It is very important for us to hear and listen to the needs of communities, to understand their expectations and to contribute to a more sustainable everyday life. Experience and perspectives show that together with local residents we can make a significant difference,” says Emilija Musteikytė, Community Manager at Ignitis Renewables.

Communities are invited to apply for social, educational, artistic, cultural, scientific and sporting projects, as well as for initiatives to improve and develop the social environment, public infrastructure and environmental protection. In order to help communities build a more sustainable everyday life, this year’s priorities also include energy efficiency, renewable energy production, environmental protection, climate change mitigation, social and educational projects aimed at strengthening entrepreneurship, health and other competences.

“We want the communities that live next to our solar and wind farms not only to improve the energy efficiency of their local infrastructure, but also implement projects that are relevant to the community in the areas of environmental protection, green energy and social change. Our aim is to empower our communities to be a part of the green change”, says the Community Manager.

Inspired by good practice

Last year, the company contributed over EUR 80,000 to sustainable projects and initiatives. With this support, the ideas of people living in Mažeikiai, Kretinga, Tauragė and Jurbarkas districts and those living near Ignitis Renewables power plants were implemented. “They were really surprising. The communities’ projects were inventive, sustainable, original and innovative,” the Community Coordinator at Ignitis Renewables told.

When asked what examples of successful cooperation she could share, she named a few. Pikeļiai community in Mažeikiai district used the support to renovate and adapt their community centre to meet the needs of travelling pilgrims. The financing received is expected to help to attract more tourists and generate additional income for the community.

According to E. Musteikytė, another interesting project was proposed by the Vydmantai community. It has installed solar-powered luminaires in its leisure and bathing area. Meanwhile, the Dainiai II village community in the Jurbarkas district has also upgraded its street lighting to be more cost-effective and more responsive to the safety and comfort needs of its residents.

All ideas are welcome

According to E. Musteikytė, there are lessons to learn from the experience of other countries. For example, Belltown Power, a renewable energy company, also worked closely with a local community when building its Tirgwynt wind farm in central Wales.

This partnership has made it clear that the region’s educational institutions need support. The company contributed to the construction of a new school building, saving it from closure. Now a large number of local schoolchildren visit the wind farm every year.

Thus, community projects and initiatives can take many forms – they can be educational ones. Ignitis Renewables and the #EnergySmartSTART programme in Tauragė are currently running an educational activity “Green Colour of Wind”. This is a local community project that invites tourists from all over Lithuania to an educational activity where they can learn about energy, measure the wind speed or virtually climb to the top of the wind farm.

Educational activities also bring schoolchildren and their teachers to some of the country’s largest wind farms in the region. Here they have integrated lessons in geography and physics. Pupils are told engaging stories about electricity and how it travels to their homes. In groups, they can also assemble and test the operation of power plants and play with artificial wind to generate electricity for their own model power plants. Pupils also try out virtual goggles to look around the inside of the power plant, climb up its gondola and admire the landscape from 120 metres high.

“This example shows that communities can receive support for a wide range of needs. Whether it’s to improve education, save energy or reduce electricity bills. That’s why we are open to all ideas. If your community needs more efficient lighting solutions, energy-saving devices in cultural or public facilities, information boards in places of interest, innovations in sports grounds, put forward our proposals and let’s work together to create a more sustainable future,” E. Musteikytė urged.

Support may be granted for social, educational, artistic, cultural, scientific and sporting projects (excluding extreme and high-risk sports), for the improvement and development of the social environment (including public infrastructure), and for environmental protection projects.

To receive support, communities must complete and submit an application. All the rules for applying for and using the support are available on the company’s website.