Exchange workshop inspires Belgian and Italian energy community stakeholders

20 Jun 22

Exchange workshop inspires Belgian and Italian energy community stakeholders

On the 8 and 9 of June 2022, representatives from Friendly Power srl, the renewable energy community Roseto, ENEA and Ecoazioni travelled from Italy to Flanders (Belgium) to visit the renewable energy cooperative Ecopower. The aim of this transfer visit was to exchange knowledge and expertise about the start-up and further development of renewable energy communities (RECs) in the Apulia region (Italy) and Flanders (Belgium), considering the differences with regard to the regulatory and enabling framework for RECs. The project team will use the lessons learned during this transfer visit as the basis for drafting a roadmap for further development of RECs in the Apulia region.

During the first day of the transfer activities the team held a plenary session with presentations of VITO/Energyville, and Ecopower. Erika Meynaerts, researcher at VITO/Energyville, welcomed the visitors and presented the COME RES project, the aim and programme of the transfer visit. Stavroula Pappa, Energy Lawyer and Project Manager at, explained the cooperative principles and the concepts of renewable energy communities (RECs) and citizen energy communities (CECs). The participants discussed the status of the transposition of the regulatory and enabling framework for RECs for Italy and Flanders (Belgium). Margot Vingerhoedt, communications manager at Ecopower, presented on Ecopower as a good practice example to learn from, focussing on its history, the triggers for growth and the strategic choices for the future. 

After the plenary session, Gilda Massa, researcher at ENEA, moderated an interactive workshop, in which following questions were discussed:

  • What are the needs expressed by Apulia region and the main elements that can be addressed through the transfer activity?
  • What are potential barriers for Apulia region for each of the elements/measures identified?
  • Taking inspiration from Ecopower, what could be possible solutions for overcoming these barriers and which of these solutions are viable in terms of transferability to Apulia region?
  • What actions and/or legal, governance and policy changes are required to successfully accommodate the transfer of the viable solutions in Apulia region after the project lifetime of COME RES?

During the second day of the transfer visit, the group exchanged information about the first projects of Ecopower. Ecopower was established in 1991 as an initiative of a handful of citizens to finance the renovation of the hydropower installation of the watermill of Rotselaar. First milestone it achieved was winning the tender issued by the city of Eeklo that allowed Ecopower to build three wind turbines in 2001-2002 and increase its cooperative member basis to 1,200. Dirk Vansintjan, one of the founders of Ecopower and president of, gave a guided tour in the watermill and explained how the citizen-led initiative was started-up. Jan De Pauw, employee of Ecopower and energy advisor at the city of Eeklo, gave a presentation about the different projects of Ecopower in Eeklo that were developed in close collaboration with the city.

Image: Erik Laes / VITO

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