Ed’s note: The community element of the energy transition


Is the community element of the energy transition the most disruptive of all?

The European Technology & Innovation Platforms (ETIPs) Smart Networks for Energy Transition (SNET), working in collaboration with Enlit Europe, will be hosting a workshop this week in which they will explore four specific elements of the energy transition.

These are: electrification and sector coupling; new market models; distributed RES and grid planning and energy communities.

All of the above are interconnected, of course, but the one that is perhaps the most disruptive to the sector is energy communities. Electrification and sector coupling, energy market models and distributed RES and grid planning will all support the development and success of energy communities.

Related content:
Should consumers lead the global energy transition?
Webinar recording: Thirty innovations for the renewable-powered future

Energy communities, by way of definition, are a way to ‘organise’ collective energy actions around open, democratic participation and governance and the provision of benefits for the members of the local community (Roberts et al., 2019). 

Supported by the Internal Electricity Market Directive (EU) 2019/944 (European Parliament & Council of the European Union, 2019), and the revised Renewable Energy Directive (EU) 2018/2001 (European Parliament & Council of the European Union, 2018), energy communities now have a formalised framework for their participation in the energy sector.

In the report Energy communities: an overview of energy and social innovation, the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission examines 24 community energy schemes that could potentially be considered as types of energy communities. These run the gamut from cooperatives, small-scale heating organisations, eco-villages and other projects from nine different countries including Germany and Denmark. It considers a range of structures, technologies, legal setups and activities, told through a number of case studies.

As the Clean Energy Package implementation continues, local and national governments are going to need to provide further guidance to consumer participants to the energy market. The report, and the discussions later this week, may provide a foundation for a way forward.

I would be interested in hearing from you as to which of the examples are likely to be a good fit in your community or for your utility to work with. Do you see a role for traditional utilities in this consumer-focused energy sector? Would it make sense for utilities to cooperate and collaborate with communities in order to facilitate the transition?

As always, we’d love to hear what you think. Contact us at editorial@smart-energy.com or visit our LinkedIn post to leave a comment.

Wishing you a transitional week

Until next time!

P.s. Don’t forget the ETIP SNET workshop – Power Grids between increased challenges and increased expectations – Actively linking emerging technologies and markets session on 22 October where the Enlit Europe team will be discussing some of the considerations raised above.

Enlit Europe will gather in Milan between 30 November and 02 December 2021 and will feature innovative companies accelerating decarbonisation at Europe’s largest gathering of companies driving and leading the energy transition. Are you going to be there?
Click here to join us in Milan.