Energy communities organise collective and citizen-driven energy actions that will help pave the way for a clean energy transition, while moving citizens to the fore. They contribute to increase public acceptance of renewable energy projects and make it easier to attract private investments in the clean energy transition. At the same time, they have the potential to provide direct benefits to citizens by advancing energy efficiency and lowering their electricity bills.
By supporting citizen participation, energy communities can moreover help in providing flexibility to the electricity system through demand-response and storage.
Citizens and renewable energy communities
Through the Clean energy for all Europeans package, the EU has introduced the concept of energy communities in its legislation, notably as citizen energy communities and renewable energy communities.
More specifically, the Directive on common rules for the internal electricity market ((EU) 2019/944) includes new rules that enable active consumer participation, individually or through citizen energy communities, in all markets, either by generating, consuming, sharing or selling electricity, or by providing flexibility services through demand-response and storage. The directive aims to improve the uptake of energy communities and make it easier for citizens to integrate efficiently in the electricity system, as active participants.
In addition, the revised Renewable energy directive (2018/2001/EU) aims to strengthen the role of renewables self-consumers and renewable energy communities. EU countries should therefore ensure that they can participate in available support schemes, on equal footing with large participants.
Empowering renewable energy communities to produce, consume, store and sell renewable energy will also help advance energy efficiency in households, support the use of renewable energy and at the same time contribute to fighting poverty through reduced energy consumption and lower supply tariffs.
Re-organising the energy system
Energy communities offer a means to re-structure our energy systems by harnessing energy and allowing citizens to participate actively in the energy transition and thereby enjoy greater benefits.
Energy communities can take any form of legal entity, for instance that of an association, a cooperative, a partnership, a non- profit organisation or a small/medium-sized enterprise. It makes it easier for its citizens, together with other market players, to team up and jointly invest in energy assets. This in turn, helps contribute to a more decarbonised and flexible energy system, as the energy communities can act as one entity and access all suitable energy markets, on a level-playing field with other market actors.