In previous years, and especially at the beginning of the war in Ukraine, EU policy (and the candidate states supported it) decided to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. In order to implement the adopted strategy to ensure uninterrupted access to energy for all, secure the green deal and REPevrEU requires a comprehensive digital and sustainable transformation of the energy sector. The recommendation is to install clean energy sources such as solar pV (photo voltaic) panels, to install solar panels on the roofs of all business and public buildings by 2027, and on all residential buildings by 2029. The strategy envisages the installation of 10 million heat pumps in the next 5 years. However, it is also necessary to create conditions for the responsible use of existing energy resources. In order to achieve these goals of Europe, it is necessary to build an energy system that is much smarter and more interactive than the existing one. Recognizing digitization in the energy sector as a priority, the European Commission is 18.10.2022 adopted an action plan entitled “Digitalization of the energy system”


The action plan envisages the creation of a secure system in Europe that would enable the availability, access and sharing of data related to energy and the energy sector, all with the aim of digitizing the energy sector. Energy and resource efficiency, de-carbonization, electrification, integration of sectors and decentralization of the energy system require a huge effort in digitization. Digitization of the energy system is a policy priority and one where the European Green Deal and the Digital Decade 2030 Policy Program for Europe go hand in hand as a double transition.

Many governments, especially the governments of the Western Balkan – WB countries, have announced that these goals will not be easily met for various reasons. The most important obstacle in the fulfilment of the set goals is the lack of professional and trained staff with a sufficient level of knowledge in this area. The project “New energy competence system and technology for WB energy stability system curricula reform“– NEST4WB, aims to modernize the study programs of the Higher Education Institution of the WB through the introduction of new courses related to the Energy Sector and the ICT sector in order to digitize the energy sector at the bachelor and master levels of education at the Higher Education Institution of the WB. This will be done through the creation of new or modernization, innovation of existing study programs at the bachelor’s/master’s level, and through the creation of hubs, e platforms, training center, network for knowledge and skills transfer. Existing study programs in the field of energy and information technology sector will be reformed and updated with elements of IOT, sensor systems, AI (artificial intelligence), VR (virtual reality), smart grid, UAV, cyber security, energy efficiency, energy coding, different technique of control and monitoring, application of different analytic tools, APPs, etc. It is precisely the approach to the reform of study programs from two areas with elements of the digital energy transition that, through the improvement of two qualifications, should improve art of state of the energy sector and in the future raise the level of energy independence of the WB countries. WB higher education institutions from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Montenegro and Kosovo* will decide, depending on their capacities, whether to introduce new programs or modernize existing ones, in English or in their native language. In both cases, the number of new subjects, their names, ESPB and other characteristics will be determined in advance and agreed at the level of the WB economy’s needs.

This will include the establishment of new laboratories/training centers that will enable laboratory exercises for students in which staff training will also be provided. Creation of modern teaching content, e-knowledge platform and a whole set of rules and instructions (Quality assurance) will make institutions of WB competitive on the education market, but also reliable partners of the regional economy. In addition to students, teachers, business, the target group of NEST4WB are decision makers at the local, national and regional level. In order to achieve this, it is planned to form a network of all potential stakeholders within the e-knowledge platform as a virtual collaborative space for exchanging ideas and social actions. Also, the important aspect of NEST4WB is improving student mobility, through its intercultural dimension, opens space for the synergism of new generation of different nationalities and cultures on WB. Practically, the results of NEST4WB are in themselves the result of synergy and as such open space for the development of long-term strategic partnerships and synergy between different areas of science, work and life. Given that the results of the NEST4WB project encourage the digitization of the energy sector, its realization opens space for synergy between IT companies and the energy sector in the field of exchange and ideas development, through the launch of start-up companies.

New competences and new professions will enable the strengthening of entrepreneurship in all spheres and at all levels, starting from education to industry and among different population structures. In general, the application of information technologies, i.e., the digitalization of the energy sector, is unthinkable without the already mentioned multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approach. Current digital technologies from the point of view of drivers of business transformation and society based on innovation, with almost unlimited resources offered by cloud technology, but also the increasingly dynamic development of artificial intelligence – are changing all branches of industry and all parts of society. Constant and sustainable digitization of all segments of society is the most important prerequisite for product competitiveness, and this is one of the intermediate goals of the NEST4WB project. Responsible management of energy resources, raising the level of energy efficiency of the industry, energy transformation towards the digitalization and application of renewable energy sources, leads to the creation of a competitive and sustainable product. Its sustainability is reflected through its social dimensions, economic and use value. In this way, space is created for the synergy of educational institutions from different fields in the development of new products, new study programs, new lifelong learning courses and generally new values.

The realization of such set goals is impossible without the modernization of the learning process through the application of modern digital technologies, as well as strong networking of HEIs with business entities. Digitization of the teaching process, despite the numerous technologies that are available, did not give the expected results in terms of efficiency and effectiveness. The issue of quality and ethics, online learning is crucial and NEST4VB will offer solutions through the development of an online learning methodology adapted to engineering sciences. Given that the effectiveness of engineering studies is closely related to the degree of practical skills of students to work in a familiar environment, NEST4VB will try to round off the entire educational process and create sustainable higher education process through innovating the existing model of professional practice.