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Community Power: enabling legislation to increase public acceptance for RES projects across Europe (CO-POWER)

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The objective is to develop EU and national legislation & financing to increase citizen participation in, and ownership of, RES projects across EU – thus ‘community power’. Community projects can transform public opposition into support for new RES installations & infrastructure and contribute to reaching the 2020 RES target. There are several examples of how citizen involvement has accelerated the development of RES. The action aims to amplify this approach across Europe. It will raise awareness among policymakers, create a large and stable pool of capital investment, provide financial benefits for the local community and governments and increase local contracting and employment. In many EU countries, legislation does not provide sufficient support for community ownership. This action will compile case studies of legal conditions in Europe and come up with recommendations for 6 target countries (CZ, DK, ES, HU, IE, UK) and Belgium. Strong public coalitions across Europe will be built to enable policymakers to remove market barriers and encourage development of community RES projects and accompanying infrastructure. In CEE countries, upfront financing is a particularly large barrier to achieving a higher share of RES, so the action will analyse and promote innovative public-private financing mechanisms for making funds from the EU budget available to community RES projects in six CEE countries (BG, CZ, HU, LV, PL, SK).

Results

  • National level recommendations to enable legislative change in 7 countries (CZ, DK, ES, HU, IE, UK, BE), and recommendations to support community RES projects in EU legislation.
  • Analysis of public and private finance sources for community RES projects, and promotion of public-private financing schemes in 6 CEE countries.
  • A broad public coalition/ nework across Europe (at EU and national levels) supportive of enabling legislation for community RES projects is built up.
  • Capacity building and informing of key EU level, national, regional and local policymakers, empowering them to put forward an enabling legislative framework in their respective countries and explore options for improvements in the EU framework.
  • At least 7.000 - 12.000 citizens are informed and engaged (by joining workshops, street information stalls, writing letters to MEPs, joining e-mail actions and petitions or expressing interest for joining energy cooperatives/ community energy projects)
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Lessons learned

Lessons learned by February 2015, www.communitypower.eu
  • The knowledge of community energy amongst decision makers and citizens was very low few years ago. Capacity building components and best practice are absolutely crucial to increase understanding and seeing it as part of the solutions to change our current energy system.
  • CEE countries play a particular role due to their economic situation and the role of co-operatives in the past. It is necessary to work deeply on basic awareness rising and to stimulate the start-up of pilot initiatives.
  • Acceptance of RES can only increase with active citizens’ involvement. There are clear benefits through community power.
  • The current political situation on RES in some EU MS and at EU level is very challenging to get a favourable legislative environment for community energy. To increase the share of community energy we need to get: adequate support schemes, binding community energy targets, clear recognition of community energy in legislation, grid prioritisation, and limit the influence of the fossil fuel industry.
  • Build up community energy coalitions and networks at EU and national level are crucial to get to the expected change we envision.
  • A broad outreach to citizens via media and social media is crucial. Using political hooks and creative public activities can be very helpful.
  • There is currently a gap in the literature. No data on the potential of community energy across Europe is available.
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Partners and coordinator

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Contact

Friends of the Earth Europe
Belgium
Contact point: 
Name: 
Susann Scherbarth
Tel: 
+32 (0)2 893 10 14

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Key documents

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In brief

Duration:
15/04/2013 to 14/04/2016
Contract number: 
IEE/12/991

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