The paper was recently published in a special issue of Energy Policy dealing with the role of community energy initiatives in the transformation of urban energy infrastructures. Besides the policy recommendations, one of the most interesting contributions of this paper is the fact that it identifies strategies community energy actors can implement to overcome contextual barriers to citizen-driven renewable energy projects.
The first Community Energy Partner Agreement has been signed between Sweden (Energy Agency of Southeast Sweden) and Estonia (Tartu Regional Energy Agency TREA).
The following agreements are in preparation:
- Germany (Heinrich-Böll Foundation Schleswig-Holstein) and Latvia (Riga Planning Region and City of Marupe), status: signing in preparation
- Estonia (Tartu Regional Energy Agency TREA) and Finland (Green Net Finland, Regional Council of Ostrobothnia, Thermopolis Ltd – Energy Agency of South Ostrobothnia), status: signing in preparation
- Finland (Region of Helsinki-Uusimaa) and Denmark (Middelfart municipality), status: Partner Agreement in preparation
More than 70 participants from all over Europe attended our Final Online Conference on September 8, 2020, representing scientific institutes, energy agencies, citizen’s organisations, municipalities, and ministries. We highly value the trust among the partners, the good cooperation and great outputs.
Initially planned as a meeting in Jurmala, Latvia, we turned this meeting into an online conference, using the chance of thereby reaching a wider audience – with success.
The conference was finalised by a discussion about the role of community energy in the European Green Deal. Addressing this concern is still in progress.
After three years of successful Co2mmunity cooperation we will summarise our achievements and talk about the current status of community energy (CE) in the Baltic Sea Region (BSR). We will continue our cooperation in the follow-up project „Energize Community“, implementing pilot projects in the BSR, empowering the people producing and consuming their own renewable energy.
Reasons to Attend?
- Get to know practical tools and guidelines to foster CE projects in your region
- Learn about how to embed CE in renewable energy policies
- Exchange your knowledge and experience with researchers, technical experts, policy decision makers, CE stakeholders and citizens being prosumers
- Strengthen your transnational cooperation in the EU
Topics of Interest
We will state the current situation of CE in the BSR and visualise our RENCOP model to establish CE projects by real-life examples. The application of our roadmap, country specific handbooks, and tools for fostering CE projects will be illustrated. We will address our policy recommendations and put CE as an important pillar of the EU Green Deal in the focus of our panel discussion.
Who will join?
This final conference targets all CE stakeholders: Citizens, European & national policy makers and governmental institutions, actors and organisations active in the development of the CE sector.
We elaborated a Roadmap on how to increase community energy using the RENCOP model. This Roadmap filters down and combines the findings of our project into an informative and detailed report. Transnational cooperation highlights the importance of community energy (CE) as a core pillar of the Green Deal in the Baltic Sea Region. Therefore, the consortium of our project has established an organisational model called RENCOP, where the impact of citizen engagement in renewable energy production and consumption is clearly outlined. In essence, it will guide and encourage organisations to stimulate a higher production of renewable energies through energy-cooperative models and approaches, by setting up structures such as a RENCOP.
Furthermore, the Roadmap illustrates a participatory mobilisation process, with general and country-specific steps, in order to develop CE in regions and municipalities across the BSR and beyond: “The RENCOP model” addresses local and regional actors such as municipal climate managers, energy agencies and other BSR/EU-wide actors interested in promoting RE and CE.
We have published a White Paper which contains policy recommendations for national-level policy makers in the Baltic Sea Region (BSR) to stimulate, support and promote community energy (CE) projects. Recommendations have been prepared during implementation and as one of the main outputs of the our project. The first part of the document provides a brief and clear overview of the definition of community energy. The second part focuses mainly on the existing policy framework for community energy and lists the main barriers and drivers that are currently affecting the development of community energy in the BSR. The final chapter provides policy recommendations to alleviate existing barriers and to make the policy framework more favourable to community energy projects. These suggestions have been developed over the course of almost three years during the our project.
New policy recommendations help countries in the Baltic Sea region seize the potential of community energy
Community energy can empower people and enable the low-carbon transition. A new set of recommendations released today can help policy makers in the Baltic Sea region unleash the potential of community energy.
Community energy has many advantages. First, it provides jobs and economic opportunities to the local community. Second, projects rooted in the local community are more likely to gain acceptance, enabling the investments needed to tackle the climate crisis. Third, it can strengthen social ties – especially in communities that feel left behind.
Despite the great potential, community energy is held back by various barriers. For example, most countries lack a clear vision and targets for community energy. Unstable policies increase investment risk and bureaucracy increases costs and slows down projects. Additional barriers include e.g. lack of knowledge and skills as well as difficulties in accessing financing.
The set of ten policy proposals released today can help policy makers in removing barriers to community energy. The proposals developed in the Co2mmunity project are based on research literature, practical experiences of projects and a broad consultation with experts and stakeholders in the Baltic Sea region.
For example, adopting ambitious targets for community energy – like in Scotland – can drive progress. Authorities can streamline permitting and grid connection procedures. Policy makers can also guarantee community energy projects access to affordable financing through e.g. loan guarantees and low-interest loans.
One successful model comes from the Danish Renewable Energy Act which requires offering at least 20% of the shares of wind power projects to the local community. When local people are involved from the beginning, projects are much more likely to move ahead.
The 10 policy proposals
- Set targets and plans
- Create a stable policy framework
- Eliminate regulatory barriers
- Involve local people
- Ensure access to funding
- Provide targeted support
- Phase out harmful policies
- Provide platforms for CE
- Create awareness and provide training
- Improve the knowledge base
Community energy refers to energy projects in which local people play an active role together. It covers the production, distribution and storage of electricity, heat and fuels from renewable sources. Local citizens can e.g. initiate, own and run projects through cooperatives and SMEs.
The European Union recognises the importance of community energy. For instance, the directives on electricity markets and renewables incorporate community energy and specify requirements for the Member States. The European Green Deal states: “The clean energy transition should involve and benefit consumers.”
Co2mmunity is a project bringing together 15 organisations in the Baltic Sea region. The mission is to facilitate community energy project development as part of a transition to renewable energy sources. The project is partly funded under the INTERREG programme by the European Regional Development Fund. Co2mmunity covers the eight EU countries in the Baltic Sea region: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Sweden.
For more information contact Gerlind Wagner-Vogel via email@example.com
The South Ostrobothnian RENCOP in Finland has been organising a virtual bus tour for the housing company representatives (see our latest newsletter for more information). At the moment, they are producing more videos. The first one is a visit to Oy Tampereen Pohjolankatu 18–20, the first housing company in Finland that has tested two-way district heating.
So far, the video is only available in Finnish, but English subtitles will be added soon.
Originally foreseen to take place in Jurmala, Latvia, the hosts decided to transform the final event into a virtual conference. This key online event will now take place on September 8/9, 2020. Please make a note of the date, further information will follow.
The project AREA 21 offers 3 webinars of the series ENERGY DISTRICT WEBINARS AND RESOURCES – TOOLS AND GUIDANCE FOR INTEGRATED DISTRICT-LEVEL ENERGY PLANNING
- 01 September: Webinar “Energy Improvement Districts: an Instrument for Local Cooperation on Energy Efficiency”: An introduction to and several examples of the Energy Improvement District (EID) concept as a tool for integrated energy planning and a method to support cities in reaching their emissions reductions goals.
- 08 September: Webinar “Strategic Energy Planning in Urban Districts from a Policy Perspective”: A forum on the current issues of energy improvement policy and collaborative processes in the strategic planning and implementation of energy solutions.
- 15 September: Webinar “Developing Tools for District-Scale Smart Energy Management”: An introduction of three ICT tools, their development and implementation in urban districts as part of the AREA 21 project and a reflection and discussion of the aspects of smart energy management at the district level.
All three webinars are scheduled from 14:00 to 15:30 (CET). Details and registration links are available at www.area21-project.eu/webinars