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Citizen-led renovation
News article22 November 2023Directorate-General for Energy

Final events of the Energy Communities Repository and the Regional Energy Community Advisory Hub

Myriam Castanié, Coordinator of ECR presents the lessons learned.
Myriam Castanié, Coordinator of ECR presents the lessons learned.

The Citizen-led renovation initiative attended the final events of Energy Communities Repository (ECR) and the Regional Energy Community Advisory Hub (RECAH) in Dublin, Ireland. Both projects shared their insights and learnings at the end of the project period.

The RECAH aims to have a tangible impact on local communities and has provided technical assistance to 28 communities across Europe, covering over 50 activities to promote sustainable energy practices. The support also includes guidance and strategies to identify and overcome barriers to the success of energy communities. ECR has mapped energy communities across Europe. Mapping these communities involves analysing different datasets to understand the legislative and social dynamics at play.

Eugenia Bonifazi, Coordinator of RECAH presents the guidance documents.
Eugenia Bonifazi, Coordinator of RECAH presents the guidance documents.

At the final conference, both projects shared their key findings, practitioners from the field reported on their projects, and panels discussed the support needs of energy communities.

A key strength of energy communities is that they are local. This also provides opportunities for self-sufficiency. The conference clearly showed that there is a diversity of energy communities with different business models. Municipalities and local authorities are important actors in supporting and participating in energy communities. National experts play a crucial role in effectively supporting diverse energy communities, each characterised by unique elements and comparative data.

Several speakers emphasised the importance of energy communities taking one step at a time: starting with small projects, demonstrating change, and trying to create local value. To engage a diversity of people, narratives are important, and it is important to find out what people care about. A speaker from the Czech Republic emphasised that he used the "do it your way" narrative to get people interested. Several speakers also stressed the importance of trust in communities, but also towards other community actors. Trust can be built by giving trust.

Participants also shared several challenges faced by energy communities today. One challenge highlighted is the inclusiveness of communities. Not all energy communities are inclusive. This requires energy communities to have a social agenda and specific funding schemes to enable everyone to become part of such a community. Another challenge they faced was also consumers, requiring transparency and accountability in their operations. In addition, energy communities often struggle to start the process and create a team of people who want to work together. Finally, a major challenge is demand flexibility, and too often, distribution networks are not prepared to connect communities. Awareness and cooperation are key steps in building these communities, with energy sharing and capacity financing being central elements.

Five key enablers for energy communities have been identified:

  • Clear policy frameworks and targets for energy communities
  • Easier procedures for energy communities
  • Bottum-up support programmes
  • National experts for effective support
  • Easily accessible funding

Achille of the European Commission concluded: “Anything is possible if communities come together”. Energy communities bring people together, and different energy communities exist. Now, it is time to mainstream approaches. For this, the European Commission plans to setup a new Energy Community Facility in 2024 with seed funding for energy communities.

Shima Ebrahimi and Diana Süsser (IEECP) at the conference.
Shima Ebrahimi and Diana Süsser (IEECP) at the conference.

 

Details

Publication date
22 November 2023
Author
Directorate-General for Energy