News

New Guidance Document: Energy Communities under the Clean Energy Package

Following the EU’s Clean Energy for All Europeans legislative package, EU Member States are currently working on transposing the definitions of Renewable Energy Communities and Citizen Energy Communities into their national laws.

To support this process, RESCOOP.EU has published a Transposition Guidance Document with in-depth explanations and best practice examples.

You can find more information on the RESCOOP.EU Website or directly download the document here.

Great news: Our project has been extended

We have excellent news: Yesterday, the Monitoring Committee of Interreg Baltic Sea Region approved our project application for the extension of the Co2mmunity project. Together with 16 other great projects working on transnational solutions in the Baltic Sea Region, we can continue our work as an Interreg project. The period for the extension is from October 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021.

The extension phase is under the motto: Energize Co2mmunity – Real-life implementation of renewable community energy projects

Please read this short summary about our future plans:

‘Energize Co2mmunity’ is the real-life implementation of renewable community energy projects in the Baltic Sea Region and continues on our successful project Co2mmunity.

The main objective is to increase the production of renewable energy (RE) in the Baltic Sea Region by piloting renewable community energy projects. Citizens facilitate, implement, and co-finance RE projects, which can be from different local sources (e.g. solar, wind, biomass, geothermic): This is called ‘community energy’ (CE). Such projects foster the Energy Transition and have a high social acceptance through citizens´ involvement in the co-development, co-financing and/or co-operating process.

Due to the extension project, local and regional RE stakeholders in the partner regions, e.g. municipalities, energy and citizen’s associations, and institutions responsible for regional energy planning, will have a higher capacity to produce renewable energy based on the CE approach.

To achieve this, our eight partners will take up and put to life the two main outputs developed in our regular Co2mmunity project, namely ‘Guidelines for participatory mobilization process to set up Renewable Energy Cooperatives (RENCOP)’ and the ‘Transnational CE partner agreement’.

First, the partners will advance the successful work in the Renewable Energy Cooperatives (RENCOPs), which were established in the piloting partner regions. They will implement concrete CE projects that were developed out of these RENCOP activities in the regular project but which still need facilitation to be really implemented.

Second, the partners will draw on the transnational partner agreement and deepen the identified cooperation possibilities among the partner regions. They will apply a transnational pairing approach in which frontrunner and follower partners cooperate. With study visits and the exchange of good practices and know-how, they will support the concrete piloting and involve regional CE stakeholders.

Energize Co2mmunity will produce two main outputs:

  • First, the generation and implementation of ‘six piloted renewable community energy projects’ in different partner regions
  • Second, the partnership will produce a ‘Compilation of findings for CE-solutions’ that will consist of success stories, processes and main lessons learnt from experiences in CE piloting in each of the piloting regions. It will be disseminated, along with a storytelling approach, to ‘renewable energy stakeholders beyond the partnership and international stakeholders’.

To sum up, the Energize Co2mmunity project puts to life and broadens real-life community energy projects, based firstly upon the mobilisation processes out of the RENCOPs and secondly upon transnational pairing and piloting support. The renewable energy stakeholders will achieve, as a result, an increase of production and use of sustainable renewable energy in the Baltic Sea Region.

Co2mmunity creates positive wind for Community Energy

Many advantages of Community Energy – Our latest RENCOP meeting

Our latest RENCOP meeting in April in South Ostrobothnia, Finland, gathered together our local renewable energy experts and stakeholders. In this online meeting, we had an interesting visitor from REScoop, the European federation of citizen energy cooperatives. Their presentation showed us how renewable energy projects have been started by citizen activity all over Europe.

The pros of Community Energy apply everywhere – also in South Ostrobothnia:

  • better acceptance for renewable energy
  • investments into renewable energy remain in the region
  • renewable energy price remains moderate

We will actively follow these themes also in South Ostrobothnia.

Virtual bus tour showing renewables on apartment buildings and office spaces

On June 11, the South Ostrobothnian project team visited two different sites on a virtual bus tour. The first one was an innovative housing association in Tampere with extensive energy renewables at their building. These include for instance two-way district heating, thermal heating, solar energy, wastewater heat recovery, and an e-vehicle charger point. The second point of visit was an office space at the electricity provider company Leppäkosken sähkö in Ikaalinen with solar panels and solar heating.

Both sites can be virtually visited once the videos of the virtual bus tour will be published. Until then, a live stream caption from Tampere can be found on the Facebook page of Thermopolis Oy.

Climate and Energy: the Danish Citizen to Citizen Way

An update from the municipality of Middelfart

We are mixing best practices with ideas from many great projects like the Empower20 project or the Co2mmunity project. Basically, it is all about making real life clean energy projects with citizens. The idea is: Leave the desks and talk to people about climate and energy, foster networking between citizens and support them.

Unfortunately, Corona has interfered with our plans, but we were flexible and organised a meeting online. The citizens from the town Strib asked for support to replace their gas boilers as gas boilers are expensive and not clean. We offered them our support to make an online meeting about it. They invited two Danish citizen examples to tell their story: the village of Foens explained how they made their own district heating system and the village of Brenderup showed us how they are making their own solar P.V. park.

Meeting before the Corona crisis
Online Meeting

 

 

 

 

 

Such meetings are really motivating for engagement in the green transition. It is important to meet citizens and get an impression on how to implement projects practically.

You can get an idea by looking at this video: it begins with the solar PV park at 51:20, the district heating follows.

— Morten M. Westergaard, Head of Climate & Energy, Municipality of Middelfart. Denmark —

Co2mmunity partners in Latvia elaborate recommendations for development of RE communities

In April, 2020, our partner in Latvia – Riga Planning Region – has finished the elaboration of recommendations for the development of energy communities in Latvia to respond to barriers encountered in policy and practice as well as to contribute to reaching the national decarbonisation targets.

The level of civic participation in energy production in Latvia is still inadequate and thus the development of CE projects must face several challenges. One of the largest obstacles to the increase of energy self-consumption in Latvia is the lack of incentive instruments, and the other – regulations that do not encourage local initiatives. It is worth mentioning the fact that initial costs to develop CE projects are high, as well as the payback period of projects is relatively long, therefore, the development of such projects seems to be available to a small number of owners.

In addition, the current net metering system is not compatible with the energy community idea since energy communities could include broader organisational forms, for example, corporate bodies. The current net metering system offers favourable terms only to individual households.

Experience from our pilot projects in Mārupe has highlighted that technical knowledge on legal and accounting issues is required for decision-making and project management. As the experience of such projects in Latvia is limited, each CE project initiative must find an individual approach in order to find the best solutions for administrative and technical approaches.

Furthermore, the evolvement of distributed generation, efficiency measures, and sustainable heating systems require a changing landscape of governance and cooperation.

A series of activities have been identified that must be initiated in Latvia to encourage renewable energy communities. The goal of the recommendations is to establish administrative procedures and funds that enable new or support existing renewable energy projects:

  • facilitate energy communities through regulations, for instance, by introducing community definitions and general provisions in Energy Law & Electricity Market Law,
  • ensure participation of public / local authorities in community RE projects,
  • adjust the existing net metering system to include community organisations or develop alternative models,
  • diversify funding for community RE,
  • adjust support schemes (equal conditions with commercial actors) & specific tax exemptions,
  • encourage engagement, coordination and access to information,
  • launch information campaigns authored by the government that demonstrate public support for energy citizens and community projects,
  • plan for energy communities and climate-neutrality,
  • advance sustainable energy and climate action plans for local and regional municipalities.

Many of these recommendations depend on a timely and progressive implementation of the National Energy and Climate Plan 2021-2030. To comply with the national policy document, we consulted the national energy policy maker – the Ministry of Economics.

Please contact the project administrative coordinator at Riga Planning Region – Mr Ilgvars Francis (ilgvars.francis@rpr.gov.lv) for more information on our activities in Latvia. 

 

Country-specific Handbooks available

Co2mmunity compiled 8 country-specific handbooks in national language on community energy development for municipalities and citizen associations addressing their respective lacks, including information about organisational and financing possibilities, technical aspects, as well as local and regional CE potential. They have emerged from regional RENCOP processes, transnational exchange of best practices and experiences, as well as existing BASREC reports and scientific studies.

You can find your national handbook by clicking on your country in the map or in the download area.

Co2mmunity partners in Latvia strengthen cooperation with national energy policy makers and local communities

Our partner in Latvia – Riga Planning Region – in cooperation with its major local partners at the municipality of Mārupe implements a renewable energy community pilot project  by establishing and monitoring a citizen-driven RENCOP and thus demonstrating the ways how individuals can work together with a joint purpose to initiate and run a small-scale renewable energy community project in Latvia. Another goal of the pilot activities is to prove that some of the existing problems that impede successful implementation of CE projects can be overcome in practice.

On March 6, 2020, to capitalise on our recent achievements in Latvia, the project team organised a workshop in Riga that brought together the national energy policy makers from the Ministry of Economics, independent energy experts and representatives of local municipalities and household associations to discuss opportunities for a more intensive use of renewable energy solutions and further development of the CE pilot projects in Latvia.

To initiate debate, our Riga team delivered three presentations, focusing on the existing situation in the municipality of Mārupe from the perspectives of renewable energy and energy efficiency, the technical, financial and legal potentials for CE projects in Latvia and the overall progress in the implementation of pilot activities in Mārupe. The presentations were followed by a heated still unanimous exchange of opinions on how to introduce the concept of renewable energy cooperatives to the national regulatory framework.

Meeting with the experts from the national energy policy makers was not the first time our Riga team presented the outputs of their project activities. The project team has already had several meetings with the national energy policy maker to discuss the contents of the local outputs and the contents of the newly approved National Energy and Climate Plan 2030 of Latvia.

The NECP 2030 is the most important strategic energy and climate policy document in Latvia that details goals, instruments and actions that contribute to the development of a climate neutral national economy. For the first time, the plan clearly demonstrates the necessity to encourage implementation of CE approaches in Latvia. It is hoped that the experiences of Co2mmunity will contribute to the elaboration of new instruments that facilitate renewable energy community projects in Latvia.

Co2mmunity workshop on incentives to community energy projects in Latvia

The solutions proposed by the residents of two condominium houses in Mārupe provide for the installation of rooftop solar panels and solar collectors thus co-financing and co-producing energy. The demonstration projects will be complemented by energy data monitoring and real-time imaging on the website of the municipality. The project team, municipal experts and external consultants guide the citizens and provide their expertise, including technical know-how. Other solutions are also currently worked out.

Please contact the project administrative coordinator at Riga Planning Region Mr. Ilgvars Francis (ilgvars.francis@rpr.gov.lv) for more information on our activities in Latvia.