Prats-de-Mollo is a French village located in the Pyrenees that aims for energy autonomy by 2022. I was part of this project as an observer and contributor for DAISEE and their project Prats EnR.

electricy meter from main hydroelectric power plant's transformer

Looking for energy

The project in Prats-de-Mollo was initiated by the meeting of David Genet, a local electrician, and DAISEE, an open design program for energy as a Common(s). The village is located in the eastern part of the Pyrenees and has a population of 1,000 inhabitants. Each year the final energy consumption of the village is around 6.5 GWh.

turbine from main hydroelectric power plant

38% of this energy is provided by a locally-owned hydroelectric power plant. In fact, Prats-de-Mollo has its own energy company dating from 1917. The future plan is to produce 105% of its energy consumption by 2022. There is three layers to this project:

  1. technical layer: creating and managing an efficient and autonomous energy infrastructure;
  2. digital layer: creating a digital infrastructure to manage energy distribution;
  3. civic layer: fostering a citizen-based energy governance and community
David Genet and the team discussing with farmers that will get PV panels installed
David Genet discussing with a shepherd that will get PV panels installed too

I came to the village with the idea of observing how citizens and stake-holders understand the energy transition of their village and how they are involved in the project. I followed David, the electrician, and the digital team during meetings with farmers that will get photovoltaic panels installed on their barns. I also observed a local meeting with citizens that invested in the project.

public meeting of Prats' citizens that partly funded the project

Through my observations I realised the knowledge and pedagogical gap between the core team and the citizens regarding simple information such as location of the energy infrastructures in the valley and future energy system. I left my observer role to become a contributor to the project by designing maps and animations to help the core team better the communication to citizens regarding situated and technical knowledge.

I've, for instance, made the animation below to explain how the energy mix will change from 2017 to 2022.

Next steps

The project is obviously continuing until 2022 at least and I will keep contributing to it. I would like to look deeper at the whole financial ecosystem that made this project happen and be able to make maps out of it. I will also continue to follow how citizens are reacting to the project until completion and further. But most importantly, so far the project is on tracks!

Credits

Research and design – Gauthier Roussilhe
Special acknowledgements to: David Genet, Nicolas Loubet, Rieul Techer, DAISEE team, Virtual Assembly team and the citizens of Prats-de-Mollo
Date – July 2018