The RePowerEU Plan should recognize community energy as a key lever. Fostering renewable community energy is a realistic way of moving away from fossil fuels by accelerating the energy transition in a just, participatory and inclusive way, as well as to tackle real social issues such as energy poverty. In order to boost the creation of new energy communities and a just energy transition, the Community Power coalition made the following asks in a letter to European Commission’s VP Timmermans and Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson:
- Full implementation of the Clean Energy Package (CEP) provisions for energy communities. Prior to adoption of the enabling framework, Member States should carry out assessments in order to map the barriers and potential at national level.
- Establishment of national and sub-national objectives for citizen and local community ownership and production of renewables in NECPs as well as at regional and local/municipal level and adoption of RES targets to at least 50% by 2030. Lift all bureaucratic barriers for renewables deployment taking into account adequate biodiversity provisions while engaging with local communities. Set specific national and/or regional and local energy community objectives promoting local ownership of renewables.
- Develop at least one Renewable Energy Community (REC) per local region in order to support citizens to reduce their energy costs and tackle energy poverty through energy sharing, net-metering or virtual net-metering schemes. Access to renewables for all.
- Provide dedicated funding for technical support to renewable energy communities. In order for barriers to be removed for citizens to effectively participate in energy communities, public schemes should be established to provide them with administrative and technical support. The specific barriers faced by energy poor households should be fully assessed, and addressed in those schemes.
- Reduce energy demand: The energy efficiency first principle must guide all actions and measures, in particular for vulnerable households, building renovations, massive heat-pump roll-out, and empower prosumers, especially in urban environments, where most people live. Reducing demand will also require behavioural change at all levels of society, along with long-term structural changes, which should be encouraged through public policies.
- Assess current market structure and optimise electricity market design accordingly in order to reflect the actual cost of energy.
- Windfall profits should be taxed and revenue redirected to renewable, energy efficiency and community energy projects and to support citizens, especially the most vulnerable. Such fiscal measures on high rents could make available up to EUR 200 billion in 2022.
- Upgrade the grid infrastructure and provide preferential access to community energy initiatives. Alternatively, allocate grid capacity for renewable community energy projects, especially if combined with energy sharing, net-metering or virtual net-metering schemes.
- Withdraw the EU Taxonomy Complementary Delegated Act which provides green label to fossil gas and nuclear investments.
- Do not replicate citizen energy community measures in Gas Market reform proposals.
- Assess the enormous potential of community energy. Assign the Joint Research Centre (JRC) to conduct a research report regarding the community energy potential for quick decarbonization of the EU, with 2025 and 2030 as benchmarks.
These recommendations are included in a more detailed briefing on the topic, also authored by the Community Power coalition.