After the construction phase has been completed, the commissioning of the system is on the agenda, the kick-off for energy production. For this phase there are still some measures that can be applied in terms of participation.
For example, it can be considered to write an operation diary, which can be shared via the projects´ website or a digital display, providing information on the energy production, for example how many kilowatt hours or megawatt hours of energy were produced per day in order to provide an impression of the performance of the system.
In the case of renewable energies, it is also advisable to report the CO2 savings or savings in other environmental pollutants, or how much trade tax has been paid to the area. Primarily it is no longer about ensuring acceptance or avoiding conflicts, but about the perceived added value of the project after commissioning, which can be achieved by receiving corresponding information. Thus transparency is not only an important aspect for the project implementation but furthermore for creating awareness of the benefit based on the verifiable effects the system offers.
It is also important to note that in this phase of operation, it is still the entire system the geothermal plant is embedded in, that needs to be considered; meaning not only the operator, but also the social system is of concern. It is therefore advisable to provide the possibility to contact someone with concerns addressing the project, either by maintaining the contact person of the local office or by setting the operation manager as a new contact person after the construction works have ended. Independent from who that person is, it is important that there is a central, continuous and immediately reacting contact that is always available if there are any disruptions or other complaints.
In addition, it is always a good idea to look out for additional opportunities for participation, such as thinking about whether to open the project to others or whether to divert heat, in order to supply the community and make them a joint user. But this can also include other financial participation opportunities that have not been offered before.
Now that the facility has been implemented, another question of relevance is how to not only derive economic benefits from it, but also benefits belonging to the other two dimensions of sustainability, namely the ecological and social dimension. For example, how could this project be used to promote and support other climate protection projects in the region? Could spinoffs to other joint energy projects be realized? The influence is not necessarily limited to projects that include renewable energies, the project could rather serve for advances in broader sustainability purposes, like the case study in Husavik, Iceland, which plans to include the educational sector into their project in forms of class trips or lessons on site.
All of the above mentioned measures for participation in the operation phase indicate the fact that the participation work and communication work does not end with the completion of the systems´ construction. Even if the system has been running for years, as a project manager there is still a responsibility on site, they are still anchored locally and in the social system and should therefore continue to shape the process and to continue being available. The idea should not be to turn ones back on the project after successful commissioning in order to devote to the next project.
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