Brač is the largest of the Central Dalmatian islands and the third largest among the Adriatic islands. It is divided into a city of Supetar and seven municipalities. It is very popular among tourists. Every season, more than 250.000 tourists come to visit Brač. The island is well-known for its Brač Stone, whose Stone Museum can be visited in the municipality of Pucisca. In the village of Mirca near Supetar, it is possible to visit the Museum of Olive and Olive Oil, which has been produced on the island of Brač for centuries. Furthermore, the highest peak of the island, Vidova Gora (Vitus' Mount) (778 m), is also the highest peak of all Croatian islands. It provides a breathtaking view of Bol, the world-famous beach Zlatni rat and the other Central Dalmatian islands.
Energy and mobility on Brač
The annual electricity demand of the island of Brač is 90 GWh. Despite the great potential and its significant land surface of 395,5 km2, Brač currently doesn't own any power plant, but imports all its electricity from the mainland. The island's main challenge is the large difference in energy consumption between the summer and winter seasons due to tourism, which is its main economic sector. The energy consumption in summer is almost twice the island's consumption in winter.
The only connection from Brač to the mainland is by boat. Municipalities on the island are connected by local bus lines that run daily throughout the year, more frequently during the summer season. Cars represent the main means of transport on the island, which creates traffic jams, particularly during the tourist season.
Why did Brač start its energy transition?
The island of Brač has a high potential for implementing renewable energy sources as it is located in the sunniest part of the Adriatic area with about 2,700 sunshine hours per year. There are many possibilities to install photovoltaic panels on roofs of residential and commercial buildings, use of heat pumps and solar collectors. Investing in renewable sources would reduce the island's energy dependence on the mainland, especially in the summer months when consumption is higher.
Local communities and regional authorities on Brač have recognised the importance of their inclusion in the energy planning process as this will ensure decisions about the energy system are made in the best interest of the island's inhabitants at the centre. They also recognise the importance of cooperation with planners, energy market agents and other actors in relevant sectors. Social organizations like LAG Brac and the Island Movement promote the use of renewable energies through their activities. LAG Brac organises an annual festival on sustainable development, encouraging sustainable development particularly in the fields of agriculture, fisheries and energy. The Island Movement organized a European Mobility Week event in Sutivan, which aimed to raise awareness on the use of electric vehicles as well as the need to reduce CO2 emissions. The town of Supetar has started the process of developing an Operational Program for the Development of the Smart City of Supetar. One of the most appealing aspects of urban smart energy systems for the island, at least from a consumer perspective, is the possibility to break the hegemony of a centralised distribution system and make power more local, ultimately increasing the economic and political autonomy of the island.
The first step for the local transition team with regards to the energy transition is educating the local population about the new technologies and possibilities of using renewable energies for their own benefit and wellbeing.