Energy communities are one of the key elements in achieving the EU’s energy transition: By 2050, half of Europe’s citizens could be producing up to 50% of the EU’s renewable energy.
To help energy communities spread across Europe, and to help them overcome the many challenges they face, the Energy Communities Repository and the Rural Energy Community Advisory Hub were initiated by the European Commission two years ago.
On 10 November 2023, the final conference of these two projects provided an opportunity to discuss these projects’ primary outcomes and achievements with energy community practitioners. It also served as a platform for exchanging ideas with fellow communities and other experts in the field.
The event hosted energy communities from across Europe, allowing them to share their experiences during four sessions on specific topics:
- Understanding and engaging Stakeholders: In this session, two Italian energy communities and one Czech community shared valuable insights on involving local actors in the community. One of the Italian communities stressed the importance of creating mutual benefits for collective progress. The Czech approach was different as it consists of prioritising groups of stakeholders: Firstly, involving mayors, secondly, connecting with citizens who will mostly follow their mayors’ actions, and finally inviting developers to accomplish the community goal.
- A diversity of legal Forms and Business Models: Energy communities from Cyprus, Estonia, and Spain, at different maturity levels, presented their legal forms and business models. They discussed the challenges faced and the lessons learned such as taking the first steps, managing expectations or identifying priority needs while establishing their energy communities, recognizing the diverse options available depending on the country.
- Social Role of Energy Communities: Energy communities play a pivotal role not only in providing energy but also in addressing energy poverty. Communities from Croatia, Spain, and Portugal shared their experiences in setting up programmes and tools, such as energy efficiency packages, to offer solutions to populations in vulnerable situations.
- A bright future for Energy Communities: The concluding session featured five panellists, including representatives from energy communities from Ireland, the Netherlands and Austria, the Director of the Customer Policy & Protection department of the Commission for Regulation of Utilities, and a German researcher. The conference ended on a hopeful note, emphasizing the integral role of energy communities in the ongoing energy transition.
These projects are paving the way for a prosumer energy system in Europe. The need for changes in energy consumption behaviours was also highlighted: the challenge is both about producing energy and reducing energy consumption.
For those unable to attend the event, the recording is now available.
Following the conference, a webinar on investment opportunities for energy communities will take place on 5 December 2024. Register here
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