The Development of Cooperative Relationships in Green Energy Cluster
Green Energy Innovative Biomass Cluster (Green Energy Cluster) is an example of a well-developed CO, despite the fact that cluster policy in Romania has been introduced somewhat belatedly in comparison with other European countries (including Hungary and Germany, which are described in this study).4 The area of operation and the direction of development of this CO is harmonious with the energy strategy of Romania, the aim of which is to achieve energy security (by supplying essential energy resources and limiting dependence on energy import) and sustainable growth (by raising energy efficiency and promoting energy production based on renewable resources). Another strategic priority of the Romanian energy sector rests in strengthening the competitiveness of the economy - creating a competitive market through the efficient use of energy, all the while keeping to the requirements of environmental protection.
The initiative to create Green Energy Cluster has emerged from the identified potential of the development of biomass (e.g. trees and woody plans, energy crop plantations, industrial and urban wood-waste, and boiler producers), including end users (farmers, industrial plants). The vision of the development of Green Energy Cluster concentrates on the most important values held by the organization. Green Energy Cluster strives to be internationally and nationally recognized for innovative projects (cooperation, innovation) and initiatives in benefit of environment, climate and green economy (clean energy, green business development, and environment protection). In principle, the CO should contribute to the shaping of a sustainable economy and a society that lives in harmony with nature, uses clean energy and upholds the sustainable management of forests and agriculture (sustainability, social equity, and local economic development). The aim of its operations is to define innovative solutions and synchronize the production and utilization of solid biomass by developing the biomass value chain and enhancing cooperation among cluster participants: businesses (the core of the CO), the complementary sector (R&D institutions, universities, professional schools), the support sector (local and central public authorities), and catalyst organizations.
Level I "Integration at the Unit Level"
The actions undertaken by Green Energy Cluster at cooperation level I can be assigned to the role of the “Informer”. Green Energy Cluster strives to develop a system of communication, which would enable the efficient flow of information throughout the CO. It enables access to information via a website, social media, published bulletins, and press releases. Members gain access to information on financial programs, market development, tendering possibilities, law, business partnerships, potential suppliers, and project management. The role of “Information exchange platform” is reflected in Green Energy’s actions targeted at the creation of appropriate conditions for the flow of information among cluster members. Various meetings initiated within the CO provide opportunity' to exchange information (both among cluster members and with external entities). Green Energy Cluster engages in the organization of diverse-themed business and sales events - economic missions, international “spot-the-buyer” events, and internal visits. It also participates in numerous international conferences and fairs (both as a guest and an exhibitor).
In the role of a “Social integrator”, Green Energy Cluster undertakes actions focused on the integration of its members. The CO organizes dedicated events with a view to animating cluster members. It also helps its members in making contacts with foreign partners by participating in themed events: trade fairs, exhibitions, conferences, trade missions, study tours, matchmaking events, as well as international cooperation projects. Participation of the CO in international project consortia has broadened its network of cooperation and developed its business contacts.
Level II "Allocation and Integration at the Process Level"
The division of the members of the CO into smaller subgroups is an activity which - in accordance with the created concept of the trajectories of the development of cooperative relationships in COs - has been assigned to level II. There are five working groups (WGs) in Green Energy Cluster, which are focused on the following areas:
- 1 Research-development-innovation (WG1);
- 2 Business development along the biomass value chain (WG2);
- 3 Education, training, and human resource development (WG3);
- 4 Marketing, communication, and lobbying (WG4);
- 5 Internationalization (WG5).
The areas of operation of these groups pertain to different levels of cooperation. The activities of the first two working groups - Research- development-innovation (WG1) and Business development along the biomass value chain (WG2) - should be assigned to cooperation level IV. The following two working groups - Education, training, and human resource development (WG3) and Marketing, communication, and lobbying (WG4) - fulfill goals assigned to both levels II and III. The last working group - Internationalization - corresponds to a field which touches upon all of the derived levels of cluster cooperation depending on the activities involved.
The WG3 group, which is assigned to cluster cooperation level II, focuses on the development of the skills of the cluster members. The area of interest of this group is the result of the cluster strategy, particularly in the context of the strategic objective in the scope of the development of human resources through competence development and continuous learning. It is also harmonious with the role of the “Donor”. In combination with the activities of the WG3 group, Green Energy Cluster holds workshops and specific training related to cluster development for the cluster members (e.g. in the scope of developing entrepreneurship in the area of biomass). The CO organizes practical demonstration activities - testing of energy willow planting and harvesting (multi-member activity) and wood chipping. Green Energy Cluster also initiates processes pertaining to exchanging information among cluster members, which in turn situates it more in the role of a “Resource exchange platform”.
In the third role - that of a “Process integrator” - Green Energy Cluster engages in joint promotion, as one of its strategic goals is to improve the visibility of the cluster. With the support of the WG4 group, Green Energy Cluster develops and implements a common marketing policy and brand development. One of the forms of activities in this area is joint operations during fairs and exhibitions, as well as participation in numerous conferences and networking meetings, during which information is offered on the operations of Green Energy Cluster and its members.