Municipalities and Renewable Energy Communities – A perfect match
05 Apr 22
Renewable energy communities (RECs) are on the rise throughout Europe, contributing to the just energy transition. What do they look like and what makes them stand out? The latest COME RES factsheet shows that energy communities come in all shapes and sizes, but that the best practice cases do share one key success factor: support from and collaboration with local governments.
Not only do renewable energy communities contribute to the shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, but they also help us rethink how we can produce and distribute energy. In contrast with traditional top-down distribution - where electricity is generated in large power plants and transported down to the end consumer - within energy communities, local networks of citizens actively produce their own renewable energy in a bottom-up and democratic approach. The factsheet presents 10 best practice examples of renewable energy communities from Belgium, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal and Spain. These are the outstanding examples taken from an already consolidated ‘good practice’ list; all with considerable adaptation and transferability potential.
How can local governments support energy communities? In the best practice cases presented in the fact sheet, measures have included: making public space available for renewable energy installations; contributing to the financing; facilitating symbiotic relationships between different actors to aid the set-up of an energy community; and even initiating the set up of an energy community from the very beginning, as part of their long-term climate and energy planning. In more general terms, the presence of municipalities within a renewable energy project, enhances the perceived trustworthiness of an initiative, encouraging more citizens to participate and contribute to the just energy transition.
With progress in the implementation of the recast Renewable Energy Directive (RED II) and the Internal Electricity Market Directive (IEMD), it is clear that renewable energy communities - side-by-side with local governments - have the potential to make a real and long-term change to the way Europe creates and distributes its energy.
Read the COME RES factsheet #2 on how municipalities and renewable energy communities are working together.